Emily France's 4-month-old baby, Owen, became overheated inside of a United Airlines plane that was sitting on the tarmac at the Denver International Airport on June 22 (video below).
The flight was delayed as temperatures on the tarmac reached into the 90s, notes ABC News.
France said the plane sat on the tarmac for almost two hours, according to The Denver Post. After France called for an ambulance for her infant, she said it took another 30 minutes to leave the aircraft.
"They were not equipped to handle it," France told the newspaper. "They couldn’t evacuate us. It was chaos. I really thought my son was going to die in my arms."
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Owen had be treated at a hospital, but did make it home on June 23.
Doctors at the hospital said the baby was suffering from the heat, France stated.
Denver International Airport spokesperson Heath Montgomery said there was a medical call at a United gate regarding an infant who had a shortness of breath.
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France recalled that the plane was hot when she first boarded the flight for El Paso, Texas: "There was just hot air coming from the vents."
According to France, the flight crew said there would be a delay while the plane had more fuel pumped in for an alternate route; planes are usually fueled up before passengers board.
France placed wet wipes on her baby's neck and shirt to cool him, and flight attendants provided ice in garbage bags to cool down the infant, but France decided it was getting too risky: "We just sat and sat and sat. I hit my call button and said, 'I think it’s getting dangerously hot back here.'"
France and Owen were allowed to leave the plane for 20 minutes, but when they were called back on the aircraft there was another delay due to bad weather.
France was allowed to take her baby to the front of the plane, and she held Owen in front of an open door.
France recalled that flight attendants brought more ice, and that another woman who had a baby was holding ice against her infant's chest.
"[Owen's] whole body flashed red and his eyes rolled back in his head and he was screaming," France stated. "And then he went limp in my arms. It was the worst moment of my life."
United issued a statement to The Denver Post, but did not address the heat problem on the plane:
Yesterday, a child onboard flight 4644 at Denver International Airport experienced a medical issue while the aircraft was taxiing prior to takeoff. The pilot returned to the gate as our crew called for paramedics to meet the aircraft. Our thoughts are with the child and family, and we have been in contact to offer travel assistance.
France said she and other passengers had to beg for an ambulance as the ground and flight crews argued about whether the plane would return to the gate or if stairs would be rolled out to the aircraft.
France remembered crying as the flight crew waited half an hour before finally returning to the gate: "They seemed completely unprepared for a medical emergency."
Under existing Federal Aviation Administration rules, airlines can legally keep passengers on the plane against their will for three hours while on the tarmac, but after the third hour the aircraft must release the passengers. However, the rules also say a medical emergency should take precedence.
"If the temperature in the plane gets above a certain level, passengers should be taken off immediately," France said.
France said on June 23 that she had not heard from United: “No one from the airline has called to see if my son is OK. It can’t be that often infants are evacuated by ambulances from their airplanes. You’d think it would be on somebody’s desk."
United told ABC News that it has since reached out to the customer and apologized.