Woman dies after being thrown from wheelchair on plane after staff 'refused to help her'

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By James Kay

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A woman has died 11 months after falling from her wheelchair while boarding a Southwest Airlines plane, and her family claims the airline didn't do enough to help.

Gabrielle Assouline, 25, was boarding the flight in February 2022 from Fort Lauderdale Airport when she hit a junction in the jet bridge that caused her to be thrown from her wheelchair, as reported by the Daily Mail.

The 25-year-old sadly landed on her head, leaving her with a broken neck and damaged spinal cord which paralyzed her from the neck down and left her unable to speak.

Assouline then battled for her life for 11 months in the hospital, but her family tragically announced that she passed away on January 22, 2023.

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Credit: GoFundMe

Writing on a GoFundMe page that was set up to help the 25-year-old with her medical bills, her family expressed their sorrow.

They penned: "It's with a heavy heart and profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our precious daughter and sister GABRIELLE on Sunday, January 22 at 12:40 pm.

"Gaby was not alone at the end. We were all blessed to be [at] her bedside, crying, praying and sharing Gaby stories. Gaby's life was tragically interrupted 11 months ago but she put up the greatest fight with grace, friends, laughter and the strong belief that she would leave the hospital and come home very soon. Unfortunately, complications robbed Gaby of that ending."

As reported by the Daily Mail, the family filed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines in March as they claim the company and its contractors were careless and didn't offer Assouline appropriate help when boarding the aircraft.

As cited by the outlet, the airline offered this response: "Southwest offers its sincere condolences to Ms. Assouline's family, friends, and all whose lives she touched.

"We have a more than 51-year commitment to caring for our People and Customers and remain engaged with the parties involved."

Robert Solomon, the family's attorney, said to CBS News: "We'll do everything in our power to get [the family] justice. Because there's no plausible explanation that you drop your child off at an airport, you take them all the way to the gate, and then you get a phone call that your child fell and broke their neck."

Assouline was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) at the age of 12 which meant she found it difficult to walk for long distances, so would use assistance where necessary.

She was boarding the flight to go and see her sister in Denver when the incident occurred, with the family's attorney believing something in the jet bridge caused her to be ejected from her chair.

When Assouline was in the hospital, her mother wrote: "She is smart, passionate, hilarious, creative, and so resilient. She makes everyone around her better, simply by being her witty, brilliant self."

Our thoughts are with Gabrielle Assouline's family and friends at this difficult time.

Featured image credit: Paul Matzner / Alamy

Woman dies after being thrown from wheelchair on plane after staff 'refused to help her'

vt-author-image

By James Kay

Article saved!Article saved!

A woman has died 11 months after falling from her wheelchair while boarding a Southwest Airlines plane, and her family claims the airline didn't do enough to help.

Gabrielle Assouline, 25, was boarding the flight in February 2022 from Fort Lauderdale Airport when she hit a junction in the jet bridge that caused her to be thrown from her wheelchair, as reported by the Daily Mail.

The 25-year-old sadly landed on her head, leaving her with a broken neck and damaged spinal cord which paralyzed her from the neck down and left her unable to speak.

Assouline then battled for her life for 11 months in the hospital, but her family tragically announced that she passed away on January 22, 2023.

size-full wp-image-1263192451
Credit: GoFundMe

Writing on a GoFundMe page that was set up to help the 25-year-old with her medical bills, her family expressed their sorrow.

They penned: "It's with a heavy heart and profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our precious daughter and sister GABRIELLE on Sunday, January 22 at 12:40 pm.

"Gaby was not alone at the end. We were all blessed to be [at] her bedside, crying, praying and sharing Gaby stories. Gaby's life was tragically interrupted 11 months ago but she put up the greatest fight with grace, friends, laughter and the strong belief that she would leave the hospital and come home very soon. Unfortunately, complications robbed Gaby of that ending."

As reported by the Daily Mail, the family filed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines in March as they claim the company and its contractors were careless and didn't offer Assouline appropriate help when boarding the aircraft.

As cited by the outlet, the airline offered this response: "Southwest offers its sincere condolences to Ms. Assouline's family, friends, and all whose lives she touched.

"We have a more than 51-year commitment to caring for our People and Customers and remain engaged with the parties involved."

Robert Solomon, the family's attorney, said to CBS News: "We'll do everything in our power to get [the family] justice. Because there's no plausible explanation that you drop your child off at an airport, you take them all the way to the gate, and then you get a phone call that your child fell and broke their neck."

Assouline was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) at the age of 12 which meant she found it difficult to walk for long distances, so would use assistance where necessary.

She was boarding the flight to go and see her sister in Denver when the incident occurred, with the family's attorney believing something in the jet bridge caused her to be ejected from her chair.

When Assouline was in the hospital, her mother wrote: "She is smart, passionate, hilarious, creative, and so resilient. She makes everyone around her better, simply by being her witty, brilliant self."

Our thoughts are with Gabrielle Assouline's family and friends at this difficult time.

Featured image credit: Paul Matzner / Alamy