This story was updated Dec. 23, 2020.
Dec. 22, 2020 -- A United Airlines passenger who became so sick the plane had to make an emergency landing died of acute respiratory failure and COVID-19, according to a report released by the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office in New Orleans. And one of the passengers who tried to save his life is now reporting COVID-like symptoms.
United, the CDC, and local health authorities are now trying to contact all passengers from United flight 591, which was carrying 154 passengers from Orlando, FL, to Los Angeles on Dec. 14 when it made the stop in New Orleans, according to USA Today.
"At the time of the diversion, we were informed he had suffered a cardiac arrest, so passengers were given the option to take a later flight or continue on with their travel plans," United said in a statement. "Now that the CDC has contacted us directly, 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."
All passengers remained on the plane and continued onward to Los Angeles after the incident.
The sick passenger was a 69-year-old man from Los Angeles. He died at 9:09 p.m. Dec. 14 at Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner in Kenner, close to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, USA Today reported.
Emergency medical technician Tony Aldapa was a passenger and worked with a nurse who was on board to try and resuscitate the man. He told NBC Los Angeles he has since developed a cough and body aches and is waiting on results of his coronavirus test.
"That was the last thing I was thinking about," Aldapa said. "I was just thinking there's a guy that needs CPR."
Before he boarded the flight, the man had acknowledged on United's "ready to fly'' pandemic health checklist that he didn’t have any coronavirus symptoms, the airline said, according to USA Today.
But passengers have gone on social media to say the man’s wife said that he was showing coronavirus symptoms, such as shortness of breath and loss of smell and taste, Fox11 Los Angeles reported. One passenger, in replying to a tweet from United, said the wife said her husband was COVID positive, Fox11 said.
“The wife of the man told everyone on board and the staff and nurse that he was covid positive. I was 3 rows away. I heard what was said. The wife stated he was symptomatic for over a week. The nurse and emt that worked on him told everyone near him to get tested,” the passenger tweeted. She has since come down with a sore throat, she said.