Man found dead inside plane engine after breaching security at Salt Lake City airport

Salt Lake City International Airport: Man found dead in plane engine.
The man died after breaching security at Salt Lake City International Airport. Photo credit: Getty Images (file)

A 30-year-old man was found dead inside an airplane's engine Monday night at the Salt Lake City International Airport after police say he was able to make his way onto the tarmac.

The investigation began when a store manager contacted the airport's control centre at 9:52pm to report a "disturbance involving a passenger" on the secured side of the airport, according to Salt Lake police. Details on which store and what the passenger was doing were not released.

As officers responded to the incident, the man used an emergency exit door to access the airfield. The man breached a security door at 9:54pm and ran to the south end of the airport's west runway where de-icing operations were underway, according to a statement from the Salt Lake City Department of Airports.

At the same time, Delta flight 2348 from Salt Lake City to San Francisco - an Airbus A220-100 aircraft - was scheduled to depart at 9:30pm. The flight, with 95 passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants on board, eventually was forced to return to the gate and the flight was cancelled because of an individual on the tarmac at the de-ice pad, according to a statement from Delta Air Lines. The passengers were rebooked on other flights.

"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 said in a statement.

At approximately 10:10pm, police and airport employees located the man inside the engine of the San Francisco-bound plane. The aircraft's engines were not running at the time, investigators said.

"Emergency personnel responded to the scene and found the man unconscious and were not able to revive him," airport officials said in a statement. "It is unclear at this time what injuries caused the man's death, whose name is being withheld upon notification of family members."

The incident is under investigation, and airport officials said they are working with the Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, Salt Lake City police and Transportation Security Administration.

"Additional details will be released pending the outcome of the investigation," they said.