Thoughts on woman who died at Phoenix airport

This morning, Jeffrey wrote a post about Carol Anne Gotbaum’s family suing the city of Phoenix for her death. Right after she accidentally strangled herself with her handcuffs while she was in police custody at the Phoenix Sky International Airport, I wrote about it. Her mental illness and desperation, plus the heightened security at airports, and the anxiety that goes with air travel made for a bad combo. Regardless of whether procedures were followed or not, I wonder what the procedures are exactly? If one goes off ones rocker, one hopes for a better result.

In the movie, “Meet the Savages,” there’s a brief scene when Laura Linney’s character is helping her father who has dementia make it to the bathroom of an airplane when flying with him back to New York from where he was living in Arizona. His pants fall down while he is standing in the aisle. No one reacts. What if someone had become irate? A small scene could have become a big one.

I was just in the Phoenix airport two weeks ago Friday dashing with a group of thirty to catch a plane since our Southwest flight was almost two hours delayed. The jaunt between the two gates was a goodly amount and I had the task of keeping track of the five people assigned to me. Everyone in my group was sane and not drinking and kept checking to make sure we were all accounted for. I can’t imagine navigating an airport of that size if under duress.

I feel bad for both sides and it’s unfortunate Gotbaum isn’t around to explain what was going on in her head that day. As a person who has worked with people with mental illness, when I watched the tape back when I wrote a previous post, I did think, “Oh boy. What an unfortunate mess.”