A Hewlett-Packard employee headed to San Jose aboard a company airplane plunged 2,000 feet to her apparent death last night in a mysterious incident that went unreported to police until 44 minutes after the plane landed.
Investigators could not say whether the woman fell, jumped or was pushed as the plane flew from Sacramento Executive Airport to San Jose International Airport. They refused to release her name.
There were conflicting reports about whether any of the four other passengers or the two pilots aboard the 20-seat DeHavilland DHC-6 aircraft witnessed the woman's exit.
"One thing is certain -- this is bizarre," said Special Agent Andrew Black of the FBI, which was called in to assist the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration in the probe.
"Until the possibility of foul play is dispelled, we will be part of the investigation," Black said. "It's unclear how she found her way out the door."
The plane originally left Lincoln Regional Airport in Placer County en route to San Jose when a light in the cockpit indicated that a door on the plane was unlocked. That prompted the pilot to make a precautionary landing at 4:48 p.m. in Sacramento.
After securing the door, the plane took off again at 5:23 p.m. Three minutes later, as the plane was climbing past 2,000 feet, the pilot radioed that he had an open door. Authorities believe that the woman "exited the craft" at that point, about 10 miles south of Sacramento, said Bruce Nelson, an FAA operations officers in Los Angeles.
Nelson said it was unclear what happened after a pilot radioed that the door was open. But San Jose police spokesman Rubens Dalaison said a pilot closed the door moments later and returned to the cockpit.
Dalaison said no one aboard the plane saw the woman fall or noticed that she was missing until the plane landed safely at 6:05 p.m.
Black, however, said preliminary interviews with those aboard indicated that some of the passengers may have seen her fall.
Further confusing the situation is that no one reported the woman missing until 6:49 p.m., when one of the passengers called 911 from San Jose International.
Authorities were to begin searching today for the woman's body. Black conceded that the odds of the woman surviving were slim.
"The likelihood of a person surviving a fall from a plane at that height is remote," he said.
The twin-engine airplane was shuttling five Hewlett-Packard employees between the company's offices in Lincoln and San Jose.
The woman's husband, who was waiting for her at the San Jose airport last night, required medical treatment from paramedics when told of his wife's disappearance.
Suzette Stephens, a spokeswoman for Hewlett-Packard, said the woman worked in purchasing but declined to provide additional information.
"We are deeply concerned and are helping the authorities to determine what happened," she said. "Out of respect for the individuals involved, we are not providing additional information at this time."
The airplane, a Twin Otter, was built by a Canadian division of Boeing.
E-mail Chuck Squatriglia at email@example.com / E-mail Mark Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notdownnlocked From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 915 posts, RR: 1 Reply 1, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 3077 times:
Maybe this lady was the unpopular boss at HP of her fellow passengers on the plane. The flight isn't a scheduled passenger flight. How, could and why would fellow passengers NOT know that the door on the plane was opened far enough for a person to exit inflight?
Flygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 3051 times:
This is actually a regularly scheduled flight. It is an internal HP employee shuttle flight. They make several daily roundtrips between SJC and Lincoln Regional with a DHC-6 Twin Otter. It is possible that non of the passengers knew each other.
This is how a Twin Otter cabin looks like.And it sounds bizarre not hearing sounds of winds when a door gets open in flight in such a small cabin and also not realising one person is missing during the flight.Something sounds strange here.
VirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4502 posts, RR: 50 Reply 13, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2921 times:
There was a B-17 tail gunner in WW2, who jumped from the aircraft (which was going down) without a parachute. He fell 18,000 feet, and his fall was stopped by a tree and a snowdrift. He survived with frostbite, and a broken leg.
"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
Hmmmm... From Canada, joined May 1999, 2088 posts, RR: 5 Reply 14, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2885 times:
That flight attendant survived the impact because she was still in the fuselage. It was a mid-air collision with another plane. That helps to decrease impact forces on the body. There a are legion of stories of passengers initially surviving inside fuselage sections after falling to earth. But, like the rest of them, she died later anyway.
I was on CNN and now we have a totally different version of events. Looks like the first media report was 100% inaccurate. This time the passengers say they saw the women leave the airplane:
December 15, 2000
Web posted at: 4:17 p.m. EST (2117 GMT)
SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- Police and federal investigators were searching Friday for a woman who was reported as falling out of an airplane at 2,000 feet despite a rescue attempt by a fellow passenger.
The FBI has ruled out foul play, saying the woman either committed suicide or was the victim of a bizarre accident.
Authorities were told the incident occurred during a shuttle flight in California from Roseville, near Sacramento, to San Jose. There were two pilots and five employees of the computer maker Hewlett-Packard aboard the DeHavilland DHC-6 turboprop.
Shortly after takeoff, the pilot noticed a warning light that indicated the plane's rear door was open. He made a precautionary landing at Sacramento Executive Airport. The door was checked and the plane took off again.
Several minutes later, passengers reported feeling a "whoosh" or sudden breeze, said FBI information officer Andy Black. A male passenger said he turned around and saw the door open and a female passenger falling out.
A helicopter flies over Sacramento, California, in search of the missing Hewlett-Packard employee
According to Black, the man said he lunged over his seat and grabbed the woman's arm and shoulder in an attempt to pull her back into the plane, but he couldn't hold on.
When the plane's co-pilot noticed the warning light illuminated again and went back into the cabin to close the door, the noise from the plane was apparently so loud that the male passenger couldn't tell him what had happened.
"It appears that due to the sound and the noise, (the co-pilot) was unable to understand what the passenger was trying to tell him," Black said.
A DeHavilland DHC-6 turboprop is very noisy during flight, a pilot familiar with it told CNN.
When the plane landed in San Jose, the passenger was finally able to tell the pilots what had happened. Black said that was the explanation for why the first 911 call was made 45 minutes after the landing.
Hewlett-Packard would not disclose the woman's identity, saying only that she worked in the company's purchasing department.
"We are deeply concerned and are helping authorities to determine what happened," the company said in a statement Friday.
Reuters contributed to this report.
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
Corey777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 16, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2857 times:
Isn't the Twotter pressurized, making it hard/impossible to open the door inflight without some monkeying around?...Also, the pax door on a Twotter is pretty big compared to the tiny cabin...I'd kinda think you'd notice the door open!!
Cicadajet From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 17, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2851 times:
Its still a very strange story. You would think that someONE else of the other passengers would have notified the authorities what had happened, assuming the passenger that had tried to save the victim was too traumatized to relate to investigators/whomever what had happened until a significant time after they landed.
Hmmmm... From Canada, joined May 1999, 2088 posts, RR: 5 Reply 19, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2851 times:
I didn't know that FA survived that collision. I know that one FA on Pan Am 103 had survived the immediate impact inside a piece of fuselage as well. But she died shortly after rescuers arrived. Well, I suppose she didn't survive the impact. That's what killed her, after all. Sometimes it takes your own mortality a few minutes to catch up with events.
As far as a human body in freefall hitting the ground after reaching terminal velocity, one would have to look into the archives of the skydiving world to see if anyone has survived that. After about 1,500 feet of vertical acceleration, the speed of freefall stabilizes at around 120 mph. But 120 mph into a soggy marsh is more survivable than 120 mph into concrete. So not all falls are equal.
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
Flygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 20, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2840 times:
The Twin Otter is not pressurized. FYI the plane involved in the incident was N252SA which is not HP's plane. HP's Twin Otter is N89HP but I have not seen it for about a month. My guess is that one is in for maintenance and this one is a loaner. HP has used leased Twin Otters in the past when their plane is in for maint.
Flygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 23, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2800 times:
Actually now that I think about, the Twotter may be pressurized.
It is hard to believe the guy who tried to save the women just sat in his seat all the way back to SJC after not being able to tell the pilot what happened. I have been on Twin Otters and they are not that loud and even if they were, it hard to believe he the guy did not have pen and paper to write a note to the pilots.
Flygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 24, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 2778 times:
Confirmed now the Twin Otter was not pressurized. The door that opened was an emergency exit and not the main door. This door is hinged on the front and swings out. In flight it would take quite an effort to push this door open due to the wind rushing past it. It would not just pop open.
25 Cicadajet: stranger and stranger...sounds like an X file. Tom
26 SashA: That JAT FA, I heard, had fallen inside the tail part of the fuselage and survived, did not die afterwards. BUT, sadly, she was paralyzed for the rest
27 Flygga: OK it is starting to make a little bit more sense: Woman Who Leapt From Plane Fought Off Attempt to Save Her Kevin Fagan, Alan Gathright, Charlie Good