Dec. 14, Sacramento, Calif. / Dehavilland Twin Otter


At about 17:20 Pacific time, a passenger aboard a Dehavilland DHC 6 was killed when she apparently jumped from the airplane during cruise flight near Sacramento. The Hewlett-Packard Co. was operating the airplane on a corporate transportation flight. A crew of two and four other passengers were aboard at the time. The company flew four scheduled roundtrip flights a day between San Jose and Lincoln, Calif., and this was the third flight of the day. The airplane had left Lincoln with the five passengers in a cabin configured to seat up to 15 passengers. The woman was seated in a single seat adjacent to an emergency exit on the left side. The airplane was climbing through 4,200 feet when a door open annunciator showed in the cockpit. The airplane landed at Sacramento and the copilot cycled each door handle. The light extinguished. The airplane then departed and was level at 2,000 feet when the light illuminated again. The crew requested a return to Sacramento and the copilot went aft, where he discovered the emergency exit open. He closed it and the crew decided to continue to San Jose. A passenger in the seat ahead of the emergency exit said he heard the door open and saw the woman with her shoulders out of the door. He grabbed her wrist, but she slipped from his grasp and fell. As the passenger sat in shock, the copilot came back to check the door. He thought he said she fell out to the copilot, but the copilot gave no response. The passenger who grabbed the woman and another passenger who apparently saw the episode remained on the airplane when everyone deplaned after landing and were surprised that no emergency response took place. The two witnesses then went into the crew dispatch area and notified the copilot. Investigation showed the doors were properly labeled and functioned correctly. Literature from one of the companys employee assistance providers, found in the victims luggage, contained highlighted passages dealing with recognizing the warning signs of stress. The victims husband informed the FBI his wife scheduled an appointment the day before the incident for counseling later that week.


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