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Disabled Woman Says She Had No Choice But To Crawl Onto Her Plane, Sues American Airlines

| by Jonathan Constante

A wheelchair-bound woman is suing American Airlines after she says she was forced to crawl onto a plane.

Theresa Purcell was getting ready to board her commuter flight from San Diego when an agent at the gate reportedly told her it was too late to set up a ramp to accommodate her.

“So when I asked that I can’t walk up on the stairs, and then she was like, so how you going [sic] get on the plane then? And I was like, oh wow,” Purcell told KHON 2. “I crawled up onto the steps. I crawled into the plane. There was no other way for me to get on the plane so I crawled up to the plane.”

American Airlines reportedly apologized for the incident, but Purcell said that’s not enough.

“I was humiliated. It was embarrassing to have 50-something people watch you crawl into a plane,” said Purcell, who has a bone disease that keeps her in a wheelchair. “There was a ramp right next to the plane and she was like, ‘Oh, it’s too late,’ so I was like ‘Okay, so we can’t just, the ramp is right there. Can’t you guys just push it right here so I can get on?’ and she’s like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’”

Purcell said this was the first time she had flown American Airlines, and will probably be the last. She said she still flies but the incident continues to haunt her.

“Is today another time where I have to climb onto an airplane again, where all these people have to watch me embarrass myself again, and I gotta be there, hoping please, I hope I never see these people again?” Purcell said.

The woman’s attorney wrote an injures claim to American Airlines asking for compensation, but the airline denied their request. The lawsuit asks for $75,000 in general damages, along with punitive damages.

“You wouldn’t want to watch your family member crawl on to a plane,” Purcell said. “I mean, come on, this is America. I’m just saying there’s always a way.”

Sources: KHON 2, Independent

Photo Credit: Independent

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