New Orleans airport officials said Wednesday that a 26-year woman died when a belt loader caught and entangled her hair in the machinery while she unloaded baggage from a plane, local media reports.
Jermani Thompson, 26, died Tuesday night around 10:00 p.m. while unloading a Frontier Airlines plane at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, a spokesperson told Fox 8.
“We extend our deepest condolences following the tragic death of a team member of our ground handling business partner at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones during this difficult time,” a spokesperson for Frontier Airlines said in a statement to Fox 8.
The freak accident occurred on the apron, where planes park for boarding, refueling, maintenance, and transferring luggage.
Authorities pronounced Thompson dead after transporting her to a nearby hospital.
Thompson’s mother told Nola.com that her daughter was an accomplished basketball player who competed with Hesston College in Kansas and Tougaloo College in Mississippi.
“She was my baby girl,” Angela Dorsey told Nola.com in an interview Wednesday. “Everybody loved her.”
“I’m just lost for words,” she added. “I can’t even think.”
Dorsey told Nola.com that after graduating with a sociology associates degree from Tougaloo College, her daughter dreamed of playing in the WNBA.
Daniel Harrison, the former women’s Basketball coach at Hesston, described Thompson as a great teammate and “the kind of kid who was always smiling.”
“She wasn’t the biggest or the tallest. But whenever she went on the floor, she gave me everything she had. There was no quit in her, no matter what the score was,” Harrison told Nola.com.
A GAT Airline Ground Support spokesperson confirmed that the company employed Thompson and issued a statement.
“We are heartbroken and are supporting her family and her friends as best as we are able. Please send your well wishes to everyone at our New Orleans station during this very difficult time,” the CEO of GAT Airline Ground Support said, according to Fox 8.
Thompson’s sister-in-law Nichole Branch told Nola.com that Thompson was a sweet person and a hard worker who always went after her goals.
“She went to work one morning and never made it home,” Branch said. “This is just so unreal right now.”
Thompson’s relatives still have many unanswered questions surrounding the incident.
According to Nola.com, New Orleans Airport Director of Aviation Kevin Dolliole expressed condolences to Thompson’s relatives, friends, and co-workers at GAT and Frontier Airlines.
“Jermani was part of our airport family, and we will continue to support one another in any way we can during this trying time,” Dolliole said.