Passengers on a United Airlines flight traveling from Orlando, Florida, to Los Angeles, California, attempted to resuscitate a person who became gravely ill on the plane, but the man was pronounced dead after an emergency landing. The man was later confirmed to have COVID-19, according to the Daily Mail. Tony Aldapa, who was among the passengers who tried to save the man, recounted the incident on social media.

"By now most of you know I was on the United flight that has been in the news," Aldapa wrote. "I made the decision to attempt to save the passenger's life and along with two others who performed CPR for close to an hour until we landed. And continued to help the firefighters when they came on board."

The man's wife knew her husband had COVID-19 symptoms, but she never mentioned he was positive, according to the medically-trained passenger. The wife, however, said her husband was scheduled to have a test.

“She told me he had symptoms, he was short of breath and she just wanted to get him home and they plan on getting tested this week,” Aldapa told CBS Los Angeles.

Aldapa tried to save the man despite knowing the risk. 

"I knew the risks involved in performing CPR on someone that potentially has COVID, but I made the choice to do so anyway," Aldapa wrote on Twitter. "I spoke with the passenger's wife about his medical history and she never mentioned he was positive, she said he was scheduled to have a test done in LA."

The CPR-trained passenger said he's now experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus. 

"I spent the remainder of the flight covered in my own sweat and in that man's urine," Aldapa said. "I have since become symptomatic myself and am awaiting the results of my second test. I have not been contacted by the airline or by @CDCgov as of this time."

Still, Aldapa doesn't have regrets about trying to save the man.

"Looking back I would not change my actions, but I may have stepped up earlier," he said. "Knowing I had the knowledge, training and experience to help out, I could not have sat idly by and watched someone die."

In an interview with TMZ, Aldapa said nobody applied mouth-to-mouth in their effort to save the man, but the passenger was given a compressible oxygen bag attached to a mask.


Before boarding the plane, the man told the airline that he had no COVID-19-related symptoms, the New York Post reported. United Airlines has sent a statement to customers who were outraged after being put at risk.

“We are sharing requested information with the (CDC) so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection,” the airline stated.

Aldapa, however, said the CDC hasn't reached out to him.

"The CDC is in the process of collecting information and proceeding according to our standard operating procedures to determine if further public health action is appropriate," the department said in a statement to CBS Los Angeles. "To protect the privacy of the individual, we aren’t providing this information to the public.”

United Airlines also described the incident in a statement to Daily Mail.

"Our flight diverted to New Orleans due to a medical emergency and paramedics transported the passenger to a local hospital where the individual was pronounced deceased," the airline stated. "We have been in touch with his family and have extended our sincerest condolences to them for their loss."

Passengers noticed the man before the plane took off, seeing that he was shaking and sweating and having a hard time breathing, Daily Mail reported. The man's condition deteriorated after the plane took off.  

Several passengers captured photos of the scene on the plane, which appeared chaotic as the EMTs tried to save the man. Aldapa, however, said there was no chaos.

"The photos look like it, but that's because there were a lot of people in one spot in a small space," he said. "Just like when boarding a flight, it's organized but a photo will make it look like a mob. The flight crew had everything under control to the best of their ability and any passenger that was not actively helping was sitting calmly in their seats. I've been in chaotic situations before and that was absolutely not the case."

Passengers expressed their outrage at the airline on social media.

Aldapa said he feels like he "got hit by a train," in regards to the state of his current health.

“I had a cough, my whole body still hurt, I had a headache,” he said.

Airline passengers are required to fill out a form before they travel, confirming they haven't tested positive or had COVID-19 related symptoms in the last 14 days, according to CBS Los Angeles. However, passengers are not required to prove the condition of their health.