Passenger Fell Out

This is the transcript of an extraordinary 911 call made by a mechanic of a private airline to the San Jose (Calif.) police comm center on Dec. 14, 2000. The dispatcher is Irene Donovan, and the caller is Ron Van Meir, a mechanic with Hewlett-Packard's Aviation Department, which operated the airline for the electronics company.

Dispatcher: San Jose police.

Caller: Yes, ma'am. This is Ron Van Meir with Hewlett-Packard's Aviation Department.

D: Uh-huh.

C: Um. I don't know how to do or who to really report this to. Um. But we lost a passenger in flight of our scheduled flight from Lincoln, California, to San Jose.

D: You lost a passenger?

C: They fell out of the airplane.

D: They what?

C: They fell. Well, they either . . . They fell out of the airplane.

D: Are you being funny?

C: No ma'am. No. I'm dead serious. OK. I mean . . . I'm one of the aircraft mechanics that work here, and I don't want to say it was suicide because I can't assume that. But we did lose a passenger in flight.

D: How did they get out of their airplane?

C: OK. Um. There's emergency exits, and she went out one of the emergency doors.

D: Where are you calling from now?

C: OK. The hangar here at 1210 Aviation Avenue. I know we have airport security, but I can't find one of their phone numbers so I started with 911. But I figured we got to get something going.

D: Where did this happen?

C: Um. It would have been out of Sacramento Executive Airport. Um. Probably 2 or 3 minutes into the flight.

D: Which left Sacramento when?

C: Um. I'd have to get one of the pilots. It would be shortly after 5:30. The aircraft arrived here at just before, a little after six.

D: And this is a private plane?

C: It's a company-owned airplane. It's a corporate aircraft.

D: And it landed at five after six.

C: Um. Yeah. Approximately 6 o'clock. Five after six.

D: And one of the passengers that was originally on it is no longer on it.

C: Yes ma'am.

D: How many passengers were on it?

C: Um. I'd have to look at the manifest. It was probably about five.

D: Where are they?

C: Um. I'm not sure yet. But I mean . . . the director of maintenance or the department manager was talking to all of them, and I've been talking --

D: They're all in the same place right now? Somebody's got them all confined? I mean, nobody's going home?

C: I don't know that. I can check. I'm talking to the one guy that's running the department, and I said ``you know, we need to notify somebody,'' and so he just told me to handle it so this is the first call that. (Several seconds of silence) See, and the two flight crew members weren't notified until after they landed.

D: How could they not see somebody or feel -- ?

C: This airplane is a Twin Otter. The door had came open. They had a indication, he went back there and closed the door.

D: Oh, it did come open while he was in flight?

C: The passengers that were there didn't tell the pilot until after they had landed.

D: They saw her jump?

C: Well, I don't want to say jumped. She left the airplane.

D: She leaves the airplane. They see her leave the airplane while it's in the air but they decide not to tell?

C: Ma'am. You'd have to talk to them. I haven't talked to them at all. From what the one pilot told me was she was there, the one guy saw that she was there, he reached out to grab her and -- she had -- you know. He couldn't.

D: All right. What's your name?

C: My name? Is Ron.

D: OK. Stay put and keep everybody there. Don't let anybody go home.

C: OK.

D: OK.

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