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Police ID man found dead inside airplane engine at Salt Lake City International Airport

30-year-old man breached security door and ran onto runway

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A Delta jet approaches its gate at the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Aug. 2, 2022.

A Delta jet approaches its gate at the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Officials say a man who breached a security door at the airport was found dead inside an idle airplane engine on Monday evening, Jan. 1, 2024.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

A 30-year-old man who breached a security door was found dead in an airplane engine Monday at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

A store manager inside the airport contacted dispatchers with the Airport Control Center at 9:52 p.m. to report a disturbance involving a passenger on the secured side of the terminal, according to Salt Lake police. As officers responded, Airport Control informed them that the man passed through an emergency exit door.

Police also received information from airport employees that a pilot reported seeing the man and officers requested the FAA’s air traffic control tower be notified. Officers found personal items, including clothing and shoes, on one of the airport’s runways, according to police.

The man ran to the south end of the airport’s west runway where de-icing operations were underway and crawled into an aircraft engine that was not running, according to an airport spokeswoman. Police and airport operations employees found him unconscious partially inside the wing-mounted engine of the occupied commercial aircraft on the de-icing pad at 10:10 p.m.

But Salt Lake police later said the aircraft’s engines were rotating and that the specific stage of engine operation remained under investigation. Police said officers asked FAA air traffic controllers to notify the pilot to shut down the engines.

Officers and airport employees worked to get the man out of the engine intake cowling, police said. Efforts to revive him, including CPR and the administration of naloxone, were unsuccessful and he died on the scene, police said.

It is unclear what injuries caused his death, the airport spokeswoman said. The medical examiner’s office is working to confirm the cause and manner of death, which may include a toxicology report, police said.

Police identified the man as Kyler Efinger, of Park City. Police said Efinger was a ticketed passenger with a boarding pass to Denver.

The Delta Air Lines flight was headed from Salt Lake City to San Francisco. The Airbus A220-100, carrying two pilots, three flight attendants and 95 passengers, eventually returned to the gate and was canceled after an incident involving an individual on the tarmac at the de-ice pad, according to Delta.

“As nothing is more important than the safety and security of our customers and people, Delta is fully cooperating with all aviation authority and law enforcement investigations,” Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant said in a statement.

The airport is working with the Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, Transportation Security Administration and Salt Lake Police to investigate the incident. The police department’s crime lab responded to the airport to identify, collect, process and analyze the scene.