Everything from a “clogged toilet to cardiac arrest” is brought to the attention of the Salt Lake City Airport Emergency Operations Team inside the airport’s control center. Executive director Bill Wyatt calls the center the “beating heart of the airport.”
So when Kyler Efinger of Park City passed through an emergency exit door, ran across the airport’s west runway, and crawled into a plane’s engine last week, the Salt Lake City Department of Airports was quick to handle the situation.
“If a door is open without permission, an alarm goes off immediately, (and) people are dispatched to address that,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt explained that the Salt Lake airport has approximately 900 acres of pavement, so from a security perspective, being able to track down Efinger’s location in about 10 minutes was pretty extraordinary, he said.
Efinger, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, died after crawling into the engine of an airplane that was being de-iced. Efinger’s family told KSL that he was traveling to visit his dying grandfather and was struggling to cope with it.
“It really just totally, totally flipped the switch for him. And he just is so fragile in that way. Like his line between being OK and not OK was so thin,” Anneke Efinger said, per KSL.
When asked if the airport deemed the incident with Efinger a serious security breach, Wyatt said that “from a personal perspective, this is a real terrible human tragedy, and someone who obviously was having a very challenging moment in their lives that led to something that no one wanted to see. (But) from a security perspective, I think the machinery here worked very well.”
Police officers and airport staff worked to extract Efinger from the engine intake cowling, and despite attempts to resuscitate him, including performing CPR and administering naloxone, he was declared dead at the scene, the Deseret News previously reported.
Director of Operations Treber Andersen explained that the Salt Lake airport’s security and emergency procedures have a lot occurring behind the scenes to “ensure the safety of passengers and our employees. And these are things that you’ll never see.”
In regards to the ongoing investigation, Wyatt said the airport has concluded its investigation. However, the Salt Lake City Police Department, along with the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, are continuing to investigate.
“The entire airport family really pulled together, communicated effectively and addressed this in a very short order,” Wyatt added.