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Second company responds to escalator fall lawsuit

SPOKANE, Wash - The second company named in a lawsuit regarding a Spokane grandmother's fall down an airport escalator has responded to the claims against them.

KXLY4 News broke the story Thursday of Bernice Kekona, who became disoriented in the Portland airport on her way back to Spokane from Maui in June. She thought she was approaching an elevator in her wheelchair, but was actually at the top of the escalator. Her wheel caught and she tumbled down the stairway, still trapped in her chair.

She suffered an wound that never healed; she died three months later.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Bernice's family this week names Alaska Airlines and Huntleigh USA. The family set up wheelchair assistance through Alaska Airlines that they say should have taken her from one gate to the other. Alaska contracts with Huntleigh to provide that service in Portland.

 According to the lawsuit, "Two Huntleigh employees met Bernice on the airplane with an aisle chair and then transferred Bernice to her wheelchair just outside the airplane door in the sky bridge/air bridge. Bernice was seat-belted into her wheelchair. Once Bernice was in her wheelchair, the Huntleigh employees abandoned her and failed to provide her the promised gate-to-gate assistance as required."

It was then that the family says Bernice went out on her own to find her next gate. Diabetic and just off a long flight from Maui, the family says she became disoriented and ended up at that escalator.

KXLY4 reached out to Huntleigh Wednesday when the lawsuit was filed; the company said it wasn't aware of the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

Thursday, ABC News obtained information about the story from KXLY4 and reached out to Huntleigh for comment. Just after 10:00 pm Thursday, Huntleigh CEO Richard Sporn sent this response.

"Huntleigh USA Corporation is investigating the facts of this case in cooperation with our legal counsel." 


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