A tourist from New Zealand was killed when the jet blast from a low-flying plane knocked her down Tuesday at 6 p.m. EDT at Maho Beach, Sint Maarten, in the Caribbean.
The 57-year-old woman was vacationing with her family on the island, when she decided to check out the main attraction of the beach — low flying planes. The beach is adjacent to the Juliana International Airport and is frequented by extremely low-flying planes.
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Although the planes flying in and departing from the airport are relatively safe, there have been accidents in the past due to the closeness of the beach to the airport.
Rolando Brison, director of tourism for the island of Sint Maarten, confirmed the news of the unnamed woman’s death to New Zealand Herald, adding he met with the family of the deceased and offered his deepest condolences.
“I met with the family of the deceased this evening and while they recognized that what they did was wrong, through the clearly visible danger signs, they regret that risk they took turned out in the worst possible way,” Brison said. “At this time I only wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones while we continue to investigate what transpired just hours ago.”
Brison also mentioned the woman was standing near the fence separating Juliana Airport from the beach, along with her family when the incident happened. As the Boeing 737 took off from the airport for Trinidad, it flew directly over the tourists huddled at the fence and resulted in the woman being thrust back due to the impact from the jet blast.
The woman landed on her head on the concrete pavement, sustaining fatal injuries. She was rushed to the Sint Maarten Medical Center. Even though paramedics rushed to tend to her shortly after the incident, they could not save her.
Brison said that he will be viewing the footage of the incident to determine what exactly transpired that led to the death of the tourist.
A spokeswoman for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated they are following up “reports that a New Zealand citizen has passed away in Sint Maarten.”
This is not the first such incident to have occurred at the Maho Beach. In 2012, another woman was thrown back by the blast of an arriving JetBlue airplane at the same beach. She sustained serious injuries after being tossed against a low wall behind her. An onlooker captured the horrific video of the incident and posted it on YouTube. Watch the video below.
Signs warning tourists to not stand near the fence have been posted all around the beach. “Do not stand. Danger. Jet Blast,” read the signs, New York Daily News reported. Usually law enforcement agents patrol the length of the beach to ensure no thrill-seeking tourists defy the warning signs and try to get near the airport.