PORTLAND, Ore. — A jury returned a verdict Monday against Alaska Airlines for $3,189,672 in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against it after a woman's fall down a Portland International Airport escalator in June 2017.
The family of Bernice Kekona, a Spokane, Washington woman who died four months after her fall, filed a wrongful death suit against Alaska Airlines in December 2017, alleging neglect at the airport contributed to her injuries.
The airline filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit but a U.S. District Judge ruled against the motion in March 2018.
In June 2017, the 75-year-old Kekona was traveling from Hawaii to Spokane with a transfer of planes in Portland, according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed in December 2017. The grandmother was disabled with an amputated leg and other health issues.
At the Portland airport, while trying to get to the gate to her connecting flight, she fell down an escalator, resulting in significant injuries that led to her death, the suit states.
Kekona's family said that they had requested gate-to-gate service for their mother, who needed wheelchair assistance. According to the complaint, gate agents met Kekona as she deplaned in Portland and provided her a wheelchair ride to the top of the skybridge. She was then left alone and became confused, leading her to tumble in her wheelchair down an escalator. The incident was captured on surveillance video.
KGW spoke to Kekona's daughter, Darlene Bloyed, Tuesday morning. She said her mother would still be here if gate agents did their job, adding that she had called Alaska Airlines several times to make sure her mother was going to get the help that she needed.
"She would have been here today, if they did their job. I requested five times for this service and there was a communication breakdown," said Bloyed.
Bloyed said she's thankful her family can now find closure, because the last couple of years has been really tough on the family.
WATCH: PDX Airport escalator fall
Kekona was assisted by emergency workers after her fall and was taken to a Portland hospital for treatment. In September 2017, she entered a Spokane hospital for care of a leg wound that her lawyers contend was caused by the initial Portland airport fall. She died two weeks later.
Federal law requires that airlines assist disabled passengers in transit. Alaska Airlines confirmed that Kekona received initial assistance but said she declined additional aid while navigating through the Portland airport.