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A Hawaiian Airlines Plane Was Diverted After A Flight Attendant Died

Emile Griffith had worked for the airline for more than 30 years.

Posted on January 26, 2019, at 8:14 a.m. ET

Hawaiian Airlines

A Hawaiian Airlines flight made an unscheduled landing in San Francisco late Thursday night after a flight attendant died mid-journey.

The New York–bound plane carrying 253 passengers and 12 crew members had left Honolulu when the pilot made an announcement a few hours into the flight, asking for any medical professionals on board to assist.

Crew and doctors performed CPR on the man, according to San Francisco station KPIX, but he died from an apparent heart attack.

In a statement, the airline identified the crew member as Emile Griffith, who had worked for the company for 31 years.

“We are forever grateful for Emile’s colleagues and good Samaritans on board who stayed by his side and provided extensive medical help,” an airline spokesperson said. “Emile both loved and treasured his job at Hawaiian and always shared that with our guests. Our hearts are with Emile's family, friends, and all those fortunate to have known him.”

Hawaiian Airlines (Supplied)

After landing in San Francisco, passengers waited for more than two hours on board before deplaning.

“It’s just confusing, trying to figure out what’s going on. I wasn’t sure what was happening, and not too many people were,” passenger Damien Stack told KPIX. “We knew it was a medical emergency, but we didn’t know specifically what it was, until after we landed.”

Flight from Honolulu to JFK diverted to SFO for a passenger needing medical attention. It’s been a long time since they asked for doctors to come to first class so I hope they’re okay. First time I’ve ever had a flight diverted, somehow. Waiting for medics to board now.

The airline said all passengers were placed on other flights and would be provided with compensation.

Following Griffith’s death, his colleagues put together a tribute for him in the in-flight crew lounge at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.

The airline also made counseling services available to staff.

Hawaiian Airlines (Supplied)


The television station KPIX is based in San Francisco. An earlier version of this post incorrectly said it was based in Hawaii.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.