Pilot dies on Miami-Santiago flight, emergency landing in Panama


By John

A pilot of the Chilean airline Latam died of heart failure during a flight between Miami and Santiago de Chile. The news was reported by the newspaper La Nacion, specifying that it was the airline itself that announced the death of its employee, who had been in service for 25 years. With a press release, Latam Airlines Group announced that flight LA505 on the Miami-Santiago route had to land at Tocumen International Airport, Panama, due to a medical emergency of one of the three command crew members. The death of the man – whose identity and age were not disclosed – was confirmed after the plane made an emergency landing at the Panamanian airport. The company specified that “all the safety protocols necessary to safeguard the life of the pilot concerned were carried out during the flight”, adding that “after landing and after receiving assistance on the ground, unfortunately the pilot died”. The press release concludes with condolences to the victim’s family and with a tribute to his 25-year career, “grateful for his precious contribution, he who has always stood out for his dedication, professionalism and commitment”.

From a recorded and then released conversation between a passenger, named Estefany Petersen, with a nurse who was on board and assisted the pilot until the end with three other health workers, it emerged how it was “a horrible experience”. . The death was attributed to a “cardiorespiratory arrest”, but there is no shortage of criticism against Latam which – according to the nurse – “must improve the protocol in case of emergencies like these, where lives can be saved but the means are needed”.

According to the health worker, on board “we did not have the necessary or sufficient supplies to perform a good resuscitation”. In his exchange with the passenger, however, it emerged that the crew, very impressed by the incident, “gave their all and carried out all the necessary actions”. From the story of a second passenger comes the reconstruction of the dynamics and times of the accident. The flight took off from Miami at 11pm and only 40 minutes later the pilot asked if there was a doctor on board. “Later we were told that we would land because the pilot was feeling sick and when we arrived they asked us to evacuate the plane because the situation had worsened,” said the other witness. Finally, she concluded, “we got off the plane at one o’clock and they took us to many hotels that were full. We were 300 people and we couldn’t all stay in one hotel. We got in line, the experience was horrible».