Man who suffered medical emergency on United flight had COVID: Coroner

Chris Bishop

United Airlines is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contact anyone who was on board a diverted flight from Orlando to Los Angeles after the death of a passenger who had COVID-19. But thanks to the captain, who made a wise decision of an emergency landing so that the man could receive medical attention, the airlines said in a press statement. Passengers subsequently reported that the victim's wife was overheard telling flight staff that her husband had tested positive for COVID-19 the previous week.

United is sharing requested information with the CDC "so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer" the agency believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection, the airline's statement said.

United Airlines said all passengers are required to fill out a ready-to-fly questionnaire to acknowledge they don't have COVID-19 or related symptoms.

Tony Aldapa, an EMT and Navy Veteran, was among three people on the flight who sprang into action when the man who died began having difficulties. Also, passengers Megan Hubbard and Cameron Roberts have been experiencing issues since the plane landed in L.A. Roberts says he's been suffering from symptoms while the situation has caused Hubbard anxiety.

The company has been in touch with the man's family and has "extended our sincerest condolences to them for their loss", according to the statement. Tran and her boyfriend, Steven Chang, were among the passengers who tried to give aid to the dying man, who has been identified as Isais Hernandez of Los Angeles.

All passengers opted to continue on to Los Angeles.

Aldapa says he has "become symptomatic" and over the weekend was waiting for the results of a second COVID-19 test.

"Fortunately, if the symptoms I have are from covid, I've gotten lucky", he told CNN.

"When you see something, you got to do something".

In a tweet to United Airlines the next day, Hubbard wrote, "Can I ask how you guys let a covid positive man on my flight last night?" Aldapa said the CDC had not contacted him. It was only this week that the COVID diagnosis was confirmed, and after that, according to the airline, it is the CDC's responsibility to follow up with any potentially exposed passengers on board.

The airline has now handed over its passenger list to the CDC for contact tracing and the flight attendants on that trip are now in quarantine.

United has since walked back its optimistic statement.