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A Texas airport worker who was sucked into a plane's engine died by suicide

An airport worker died after being ingested into the engine of this Delta Airbus A319 in San Antonio on Friday.
Michael Braun
/
NPR
An airport worker died after being ingested into the engine of this Delta Airbus A319 in San Antonio on Friday.

Updated June 27, 2023 at 11:20 AM ET

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.

An airline worker who was ingested into a plane's engine Friday night at the San Antonio International Airport took his own life, a medical examiner said.

The plane, an airbus A319 operated by Delta Air Lines, was arriving in San Antonio from Los Angeles and taxiing to the gate on one engine when the worker was sucked into that engine, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a written statement shared with NPR.

The medical examiner's office identified the worker as San Antonio resident David Renner, age 27.

The cause of his death is listed as "blunt and sharp force injuries," the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed to NPR in a phone call on Tuesday.

Renner was employed by Unifi, a company that provides ground handling operations at many U.S. airports and is contracted by Delta in San Antonio.

"We are heartbroken and grieving the loss of an aviation family member's life," a Delta spokesperson told NPR.

A spokesperson for San Antonio International Airport echoed that sentiment, saying the staff is "deeply saddened by this incident."

The NTSB is not planning to investigate the death. "There were no operational safety issues with either the airplane or the airport," the agency told NPR on Tuesday.

This is the second incident of fatal engine ingestion in a little under seven months. In January, ground crew member Courtney Edwards was killed instantly after being pulled into a spinning jet turbine in Montgomery, Ala.

A hazmat truck and police vehicle arrive at the gate the morning after an airport worker was killed after being ingested into a plane's engine in San Antonio.
Michael Braun / NPR
/
NPR
A hazmat truck and police vehicle arrive at the gate the morning after an airport worker was killed after being ingested into a plane's engine in San Antonio.

Edwards' employer, Piedmont Airlines, was fined $15,625 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last week after being found at fault for safety failures by exposing its workers to jet blast hazards. Piedmont, a subsidiary of American Airlines, is contesting the findings before an independent OSHA review commission.

An earlier NTSB investigation was more favorable to the company, finding that the ground crew staff had participated in two safety briefings immediately before the plane arrived at its gate.

The report said Edwards, a 34-year-old mother of three, approached the plane as the engines were still activated and a safety light was still illuminated.

The co-pilot noticed that a cargo door indicator light was on and opened the cockpit window to try to warn the ramp agents that the engines were still running. Surveillance video showed another ramp worker trying to gesture to Edwards, indicating she should move away from the plane.

"The airplane shook violently followed by the immediate automatic shutdown of the number 1 engine," the report says.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.

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