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Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 12:22 am

, Investigators Say
Chuck Squatriglia, Mark Martin, Chronicle Staff Writers
Friday, December 15, 2000
©2000 San Francisco Chronicle

URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/12/15/MN137139.DTL


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 csquatriglia@sfchronicle.com / E-mail Mark Martin at markmartin@sfchronicle.com

©2000 San Francisco Chronicle Page A30
 
notdownnlocked
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 12:32 am

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?
 
hmmmm...
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 12:34 am

Something sure smells funny. How is that no noticed she was missing or saw her exit until the plane landed? Usually an open door in an airplane is hard to overlook. It makes lots of noise and wind.

Me thinks foul play.

Hmmmm...
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
 
Guest

RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 12:44 am

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.



really? good thing the FBI was their to offer that nugget of information.
 
Guest

RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:02 am

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.

Richard Silagi
 
wing
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:16 am


Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Craig Murray


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.

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Alexander Y.A. Kueh


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gkirk
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:21 am

The only way she would have survived was by using a Parachute.
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widebody
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:26 am

Could the other 4 passengers have been sitting at the front of the plane, and the woman at the back, and exited through the rear door.....???
 
Sasha
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:37 am

Ha! Opeining of ANY door on in flying airplane would get noticed. Just think of how much noise the engines would make alone. Also, air stream and all that.

Maybe she wasn't on the plane in the first place. She could've been assasinated or liquidated some other way, and this story was made up to "explain the odd".

One bizzare thing on another...

RIP for that woman.  
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Guest

RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 4:57 am

What is also very strange about this incident, is that there has been very little talk about it by the local news media here in the San Jose area.



 
contrails
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 5:28 am

This sounds like something out of a movie script. How could somebody jump from an airborne aircraft and nobody notice it? Something indeed smells fishy.

I'm not too impressed with the FBI's investigation so far. All they can say is that her odds of surviving the fall are "remote"?

Sounds like a D.B. Cooper type caper, with accomplices.

Flying Colors Forever!
 
Guest

RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 5:34 am

There is definitely more to this story.....There has to be!
 
Delta777-XXX
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 5:55 am

The woman COULD survive that fall. Did anyone read about the flight attendant that survived a 39,000ft fall after the DC-9 that she was in exploaded. (it could have been 29,000ft)

I saw that in the guinesses (sp?) book of world records.

Anyone else see that one??
 
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VirginFlyer
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet

Sat Dec 16, 2000 6:14 am

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...
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 7:56 am

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.

Hmmmm...

An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
 
chiawei
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 9:02 am

The F/A in JAT DC-9 survived the fall from FL290. She did not die as the previous post stated. However, she did suffer massive head injuries.
 
Guest

RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 9:15 am

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!!


Somethin's up here....

Corey777
 
cicadajet
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 9:27 am

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.

Tom
 
watewate
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 9:29 am

This would make a good movie script. High-tech murder!  

Btw, pax are innocent until proven guilty.
 
hmmmm...
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 9:35 am

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.

Hmmmm...
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
 
Guest

RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 10:02 am

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.

Richard Silagi
 
TWA902fly
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet

Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:29 pm

What about that Yougoslavian Airlines JAT FA who fell over 30000 feet and survived?

-TWA902fly
Chicago Illinois
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MD-90
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 1:48 pm

Obviously HP needs to upgrade to a pressurized Pilatus PC-12, like the RCMP who've ditched their Twotters (now that's a funny name) for PC-12s.
 
Guest

RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 2:00 pm

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.
 
Guest

RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 4:01 pm

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.

 
cicadajet
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sat Dec 16, 2000 4:05 pm

stranger and stranger...sounds like an X file.

Tom
 
Sasha
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RE: Bizzare Incident -H-P Worker Falls 2,000 Feet From

Sun Dec 17, 2000 2:57 am

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 of her life.
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Guest

Latest Update

Sun Dec 17, 2000 3:37 am

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 Goodyear, Chronicle Staff Writers
Saturday, December 16, 2000
©2000 San Francisco Chronicle

URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/12/16/MN168412.DTL



Despondent over her recent emigration from Europe, the young woman who plunged to her death from a corporate plane near Sacramento was apparently so bent on dying that she fought off a colleague's desperate attempt to keep her from leaping out the door.

Searchers found Elisabeth "Lizette" Otto's body in a weedy field yesterday afternoon, more than 21 hours after her 2,000-foot fall to earth. And although many questions remained unanswered, authorities were leaning toward the conclusion that rather than a murder mystery or mechanical malfunction, what they were really dealing with was a suicide.

It devastated everyone involved: the passenger who tried to save her, her husband who was worried about her before she ever left the ground, the pilots and her many co-workers at Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, where Otto worked in the purchasing department.

"It appears there was no crime aboard that plane, but just a very, very sad incident," said Andrew Black, spokesman for the FBI office in San Francisco. "There was no foul play."

One of the biggest remaining questions was why it took 38 minutes for anyone to call police after the DeHavilland DHC-6 twin-propeller plane landed Thursday evening at San Jose International Airport.

Investigators were still trying to pin that down.

The plane, chartered by Hewlett-Packard to carry five employees from the company's Roseville plant to San Jose, left Lincoln Regional Airport in Placer County about 4:30 p.m. The first sign of danger came when a control panel light flicked on shortly after takeoff, indicating that a rear door was unlocked. The pilot and co-pilot landed the craft at Sacramento Executive Airport, an old small-plane field south of downtown Sacramento, locked the door and took off again.

That's when the trouble began.

Otto apparently managed to heave the rear emergency door open about three minutes after takeoff at 5:23 p.m. As she stood in the doorway ready to jump, a co-worker sitting two seats from the rear twisted around and saw her.

"He lunged over the seat, grabbed her shoulder and tried to pull her back onto the plane," said Black. "He couldn't.

"He clearly took extraordinary measures to save her, with great danger to himself," Black added. "It was very selfless, and he was distraught that he couldn't hold her any more."

Aviation officials said Otto, 31, would have had to use all her strength to open the door as the plane soared skyward at more than 150 mph.

Alerted by a warning light that the rear door was open, the co-pilot went back to shut it, but engine and wind noise from the open portal evidently prevented him from hearing what anybody was saying. Because the cabin didn't have to be pressurized at that height, the open door would not have sucked people out, but the whooshing sound would have been incredible, aviation experts said.

'IT WAS CHAOS'

"It was chaos up there," one source close to the investigation said. "It's a loud plane, and the passenger is trying to explain that they lost a passenger, but the wind and the prop noise is too loud." Once the door was shut, the passenger evidently sat in shock as the co-pilot dashed back to the cabin, and the plane landed in San Jose about 15 minutes later.

Jerry Snyder, a spokesman for the FAA, said the agency does not believe that the pilot erred in continuing to San Jose after securing the door a second time.

"The inspector couldn't find any fault in his proceedings," Snyder said.

The co-pilot and pilot apparently didn't learn the news until they taxied to a halt in San Jose at 6:05 p.m. and came back to unload the passengers. After they consulted with company officials, an HP worker called the San Jose police 911 line 38 minutes later.

"It seems like they were just trying to sort out what the company should do,

and then they called the police," said the source. "But that's all still part of the investigation."

San Jose police records make it a little clearer. The department learned of the tragedy when a mechanic for HP's corporate aviation department at San Jose airport reported the missing passenger at 6:43 p.m., said San Jose Police Sgt. Steven Dixon.

Minutes later, fire paramedics were called to aid Otto's husband, Michael Otto, who had arrived to pick her up and grew agitated when no one could explain why his wife didn't get off the plane.

STRANGE SCENE

"He was saying, 'Where's my wife? Does anyone know what's happened to my wife?' " said San Jose Fire Capt. Mark Mooney, who arrived soon after paramedics. "It was just a strange scene, because no one was saying anything." Mooney said the assembled police and fire officials didn't want to traumatize Otto by questioning him before the FBI arrived.

"The paramedics were sitting in a little conference room with the husband, who was very upset and hyper-ventilating. And there was this big airplane with red tape all around it, and its back door was open," Mooney said.

Paramedic Brian Endicott helped Otto count to slow his breathing. "He was literally in a state of shock," he said. "And, while he was told what happened,

I don't know that he actually believed it."

Endicott said HP officials, including Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina,

arrived within minutes to support the grief-stricken husband.

"They were on it, and they had their top people there offering anything we needed to assist him," he said.

At Hewlett Packard headquarters in Palo Alto yesterday, grief counselors helped workers as they wrestled with their anguish.

Michael Otto, reached by phone last night, was too shaken to talk at length.

"It's too personal for me," he said, his voice cracking. "I don't think I'll ever want to talk about it, certainly not in a public way.

"It's all so much to deal with, so much. I have to deal with my wife's death and funeral right now."

Michael Otto told paramedics that he and his wife were newlyweds who had moved to San Francisco just 2 1/2 months ago. "They were both in fairly new positions with their jobs, and they were sightseeing and traveling around the area on weekends, just trying to get adjusted to the American culture and lifestyle," Endicott said.

Sources close to the investigation said that Lizette Otto had recently come to the United States from either Holland or Denmark and that her husband is apparently from Germany. They had no children.

"She was depressed," said the source. "She had to deal with change in living here, and she had trouble dealing with the move.

"Her husband was concerned before she even took off that day, thought this sort of thing was a possibility. What a way to commit suicide, if that's what happened."

MALFUNCTION RULED OUT

FAA and National Transportation Safety Board records indicated no history of problems or accidents with the plane. An FAA inspector who examined the plane in San Jose yesterday morning determined that there was no equipment malfunction, said FAA Western Regional spokesman Jerry Snyder.

Search teams on the ground and in helicopters examined the south Sacramento area for hours yesterday before residents near an overgrown community garden found Otto's body about 2 p.m.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
TRAGEDY IN THE SKY
Thursday 1) 4:30 p.m. Hewlett-Packard plane takes off from Lincoln Regional Airport in Placer County. 2) Pilot sees light indicating a door is unlocked. 3) 4:48 p.m. Plane makes emergency landing at Sacramento Executive Airport. Crew locks door. 5:23 p.m. Plane takes off again. 4) 5:26 p.m. At 2,000 feet, a light comes on indicating a door is open. 5) Woman falls from plane; body found about 10 miles south of Sacramento. 6) 6:05 p.m. Plane lands at San Jose Airport. 6:43 p.m. Authorities are contacted.


©2000 San Francisco Chronicle Page A1