Coroner confirms passenger who died on United flight had COVID-19

Greg Nash

A Louisiana coroner confirmed the passenger who died on a United Airlines flight last week had COVID-19 in a report released this week. 

Jefferson Parish coroner Gerry Cvitanovich listed the 69-year-old man’s causes of death as COVID-19 and acute respiratory failure, The Washington Post reported

The man, identified in the report as Isaias Hernandez, had a medical emergency aboard Flight 591, which made an unplanned landing in New Orleans. The man was pronounced dead at Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner at 9:09 p.m., USA Today reported

At the time of the flight, the Los Angeles man’s wife was overheard telling medical workers on the plane that he was experiencing coronavirus symptoms, including trouble breathing and loss of taste and smell. The man did not reveal those symptoms prior to the flight. 

United deferred to its earlier statements on the incident when asked for comment on the coroner’s report. 

In United’s early statements about the medical emergency, the airline said it initially believed the man had a heart attack. The airline told The New York Times that passengers were given the option to take a later flight or continue to Los Angeles and that all of the passengers elected to continue. 

United officials said they later learned the man had COVID-19 symptoms before traveling but wrongly indicated he did not have symptoms on a preflight checklist, according to the Post. 

The airline said on Friday that it was providing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with requested information to help contact the passengers of the flight.

“We are sharing requested information with the agency so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection,” the airline told the Times.
“We implore passengers [to avoid travel] if they have been diagnosed with Covid-19 or have Covid-related symptoms,” it continued. “If in doubt, the best option is to get tested.”

Tony Aldapa, who said he was one of the medical volunteers on the plane, told CNN on Monday that he got involved even though there was a risk the man had COVID-19.

He has since developed fatigue, a cough and headache but has tested negative for the virus.

Updated: 5:46 p.m.

Tags air travel Airplane Coronavirus Coroner COVID-19 Flight Pandemic plane united United Airlines

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video