Stricken United plane captain dies in Boise
Two Army doctors from Madigan performed CPR onboard plane bound from Houston to Seattle.
The Associated Press
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BOISE, Idaho — Idaho officials have identified the United Airlines captain who died after suffering a midflight heart attack as 63-year-old Henry Skillern of Humble, Texas.
Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg performed an autopsy on Skillern late Friday morning and confirmed that he died at a Boise hospital of a heart attack.
The captain was piloting United Flight 1603 from Houston to Seattle when the emergency occurred Thursday forcing an off-duty pilot to take over control of the plane. Two Madigan Army Medical Center doctors onboard performed CPR, according to Jay Ebbeson, a spokesman for the hospital at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Ebberson says the two are captains and radiology residents who were returning to the base near Tacoma, Wash., from a medical course at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. They were unavailable Friday to talk about the incident, he said.
The plane made an emergency landing in Boise and Skillern was still alive when he was taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, but he died during treatment, spokeswoman Jennifer Krajnik said Friday.
The news lit up social media in the early morning hours Friday.
Passenger Ken Martin told Seattle TV station KOMO (http://bit.ly/19Fu3A4) a first-year resident doctor sitting next to him volunteered to help perform CPR. She told Martin the pilot appeared to weigh over 300 pounds and was taken into the first class cabin where CPR was performed.
Passenger Bryant Magill described a calm scene onboard.
“I’m really impressed with all the flight attendants,” Magill told KOMO. “They kept themselves calm. They kept it professional. There was no panic on the plane.”
United Airlines spokeswoman Christen David said another off-duty United Airlines pilot was onboard and helped land the plane. She declined to immediately release details of the situation.
“I am sad to confirm that our co-worker passed away last night. Our thoughts are with his family at this time,” David said in an email.
Pilots are required to get medical certificates that show they don’t have major heart problems, according to the Federal Aviation Administration website.
The flight landed safely about 8 p.m. local time and was met by paramedics who took the pilot to the hospital. The Boeing 737-900 had 161 passengers and a crew of six on board.
David says another pilot flew the plane and passengers to Sea-Tac Airport.