Teen son of Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier dies after cardiac arrest on diverted flight

The Seattle TimesDecember 8, 2013 

The 16-year-old boy who died Saturday morning aboard a Delta Air Lines flight bound for Atlanta from Seattle had a previous medical condition and went into cardiac arrest, Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said Sunday afternoon.

On Monday, the Spokane Medical Examiner’s Office identified the boy as Zachary Bisiar and listed the cause of death as “pending” further microscopic and other studies but is “thought to be a rare complication of a rare disease process.”

Flight 128 was diverted to Spokane International Airport shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday while flight attendants and volunteers aboard the plane performed CPR, Schaeffer said.

Members of the Spokane Fire Department continued CPR for 40 minutes while the plane sat on the tarmac at the airport, An automated external defibrillator was on board the plane and was used in trying to save the boy’s life, but ultimately Bisiar was pronounced dead at the scene.

Schaeffer said Bisiar had a previous medical condition but had been cleared to fly.

“It really hurts your heart when something like this isn’t successful. We worked on him a long time, and did every possible therapy we could try,” Schaeffer said. “Everyone on that plane knew what was going on, and it was incredibly emotional for everyone on board.”

Bisiar and family members were flying to Atlanta for the holidays. His father, a soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was scheduled to drive to Atlanta to meet the family before Christmas, said Capt. Jesse Paulsboe, public-information officer for the man’s unit, the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division.

The father had new orders to be stationed near Atlanta, where the family is from. They had moved to Washington in June 2012 from Fort Hood, Texas, Paulsboe said.

Schaeffer said the father immediately drove over Snoqualmie Pass. He is now on emergency leave to be with his family in Spokane.

“It is a 4.5-hour drive on I-90 over here, and I don’t think it took him that much longer to get here,” Schaeffer said.

The family is being put up in a hotel near the Spokane airport while waiting for the medical examiner to perform the autopsy.

Delta spokesman Michael Thomas said there were 258 passengers on Flight 128. Delta flew in another crew from Salt Lake City on Saturday afternoon to take the remaining passengers to Atlanta. The continuation of Flight 128 arrived in Atlanta at 12:48 a.m. Sunday, more than eight hours behind schedule.

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