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Utah man dies after crawling into plane engine at airport

The victim's father said his son was traveling to visit a sick relative but had struggled with mental health for nearly a decade.
Posted at 11:09 AM, Jan 03, 2024

A Utah man died Monday night after he breached an airport security door and crawled into the engine of a plane at Salt Lake City International Airport.

Police disclosed that Kyle Efinger, 30, was a ticketed passenger with a boarding pass to Denver. They said that at 9:52 p.m., a store manager inside the airport reported a disturbance involving a passenger on the secured side of the terminal. Airport control later told officers that a man went through an emergency exit door.

As officers and employees from the airport started looking for the man, they discovered he accessed the airport's ramp area from the emergency exit. The airport detailed that Efinger ran to the south end of the airport's west runway and crawled into the engine of a plane.

Shortly after, a pilot reported seeing Efinger, and officers found clothing and shoes on one of the airport's runways. About 20 minutes later, officials found Efinger unconscious inside a "wing-mounted engine of an occupied commercial aircraft on the deicing pad," police reported.

"The aircraft's engines were rotating," police said. "The specific stage of engine operation remains under investigation."

Officials worked to get Efinger out of the area and performed life-saving efforts on him, including CPR and administration of naloxone; however, he died at the scene.

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While the incident did not impact airport operations overall, police said they worked with the airport to deplane passengers and secure the area. An investigation is underway by local and federal officials including the Salt Lake City Police Department, Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and Transportation Security Administration.

The plane that was impacted was a Delta flight set to travel to San Francisco. On board were two pilots, three flight attendants and 95 travelers. Delta said the flight was canceled and passengers were rebooked on other flights following the incident.

“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," a statement reads.

On Tuesday, Kyle's father, Judd Efinger, told Scripps News Salt Lake City that his son was traveling to visit a sick relative but had struggled with mental health for nearly a decade.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Salt Lake City.