A 16-year-old boy suffered a medical emergency and died on board a Delta Air Lines flight en route to Atlanta from Seattle Saturday morning.
Authorities told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the boy, whose name has not been released, was originally from the Atlanta area and was en route with an unspecified number of family members to celebrate Christmas with relatives there. The boy's father is in the military and is stationed in Washington.
Spokane (Wash.) Fire Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer told the paper that the boy began suffering distress approximately 30 minutes after Delta Flight 128 took off at 9 a.m. local time. The aircraft was diverted to Spokane, where emergency technicians met the plane at a gate.
Passenger Joe Ryan said that the pilot came on the plane's intercom shortly after takeoff and informed the passengers of the emergency. Ryan said he believed the teen and his family were sitting somewhere behind him, and the boy was taken to the rear of the craft, where flight attendants attempted life-saving measures.
According to The Associated Press, officials said the teen had an incident in-flight, and passed away from natural causes prior to the emergency landing.
Schaeffer told the Journal-Constitution that the teen did have a pre-existing condition, but family members had said that he was able to fly. It was not immediately clear what the pre-existing condition was. An autopsy is pending.
The flight had been scheduled to land in Atlanta at 4 p.m. local time. Delta spokesman Michael Thomas told the paper that the airline was working to rearrange travel for some of the 258 passengers. A relief crew was expected to take over the plane and fly the remaining passengers to Atlanta, with landing estimated to be at midnight Sunday local time.