Judge: Suit against Alaska Airlines can go forward for woman who fell down escalator in wheelchair

Judge: Suit against Alaska Airlines can go forward for woman who fell down escalator in wheelchair

A King County judge has ruled in favor of a Spokane family, suing Alaska Airlines for injuries their mother suffered when she tumbled down an airport escalator in her wheelchair.

75-year old Bernice Kekona was traveling back to Spokane from visiting family in Hawaii in June, 2017. A wheelchair-bound widow, Kekona needed help getting from one gate to another at Portland International Airport. Her family arranged for an airport escort, but the family says it never came. Kekona decided to go it alone, ended up confused, and tumbled down 21 steps of the airport escalator.

The incident was captured on airport surveillance cameras. It took several bystanders to get the chair upright and free Kekona.

Kekona suffered multiple injuries, including escalator teeth marks on her face and trauma to her head and chest. The most serious injury to her Achilles tendon that never healed. The wound went septic; doctors amputated and Kekona was dead the next day.

The family filed a lawsuit against Alaska Airlines and a subcontractor who was supposed to provide the gate-to-gate transportation.

Alaska Airlines moved to have the suit dismissed for summary judgment. Monday, their claim was rejected.

A jury trial is set for January in King County.