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Texas woman died from COVID-19 after Spirit flight was diverted to Albuquerque in July

  • October 21, 2020

A woman in her 30s died from COVID-19 while on a Spirit Airlines flight in July, according to airport officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico.           

The July 24 flight from Las Vegas to Dallas-Fort Worth was diverted to Albuquerque when the crew reported an unresponsive female on board, Stephanie Kitts, a spokesperson for Albuquerque International Sunport, said in an email to The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network.

“Based on that report, and the fact that there was no mention of COVID at the time of the diversion, we treated this as we would any other medical incident,” Kitts said.

Authorities responded and determined the woman was dead on arrival, she said. 

Spirit Airlines airbus in flight.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, in Texas, announced the woman’s death Sunday in a press release that was obtained by NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. He also noted that she did have underlying health conditions.

He said the woman, who lived in Garland, Texas, had difficulty breathing and was given oxygen but died on the jetway in Albuquerque, NBC reported. 

CATCH UP: Arizona reports more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases and 7 new deaths

On Tuesday, Lauren Trimble, Jenkins’ chief of staff, told The Arizona Republic that the death was “mistakenly reported to have happened in Arizona” but that it happened in New Mexico.

Jenkins wrote in a Tuesday tweet that his prayers were with the woman’s family as well as “every family that has lost someone to Covid-19.”

Jenkins said he would not be able to release many more details about the incident, citing privacy laws.

USA TODAY has reached out to Spirit Airlines for comment as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the protocol for handling COVID-19 deaths on planes. 

Reach the reporter at or 602-444-8529. Follow her on Twitter @brieannafrank

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