An obese Bronx woman who suffered from kidney disease and diabetes died in Hungary after she and her husband were turned away from at least three New York-bound flights as they tried to return to the states for medical treatment following a vacation in Europe, according to a published report.
Janos Soltesz and his 56-year-old wife, Vilma, usually vacationed each year for a few weeks at a home they owned in the Hungarian countryside. Vilma, who weighed about 425 pounds, had one leg and used a wheelchair, required two plane seats, which a travel agent informed the airline about and purchased prior to the couple's September trip.
When the duo boarded a flight home Oct. 15 so that Vilma Soltesz could resume medical treatment for her kidney disease and diabetes with her regular doctors, they were told the airline could not accommodate the ill woman because of her size, reports The New York Post.
Janos Soltesz said KLM Airlines told him and his wife that it didn't have a seat-belt extender available to secure her in the back of the plane. An airline spokeswoman told the Post in a statement that "it was not physically possible for her to board the aircraft, despite every effort made by KLM to this end."
The couple drove five hours to Prague to catch a Delta flight that could accommodate Vilma Soltesz as a person with a disability, but once they arrived, the airline told them its plastic wheelchair couldn't carry her weight and she couldn't ride on the sky-lift elevator. The airline said in a statement it was "physically unable to board" Vilma Soltesz in Prague, and the couple returned to their vacation home in Hungary to make alternate arrangements, reports the Post.
A week later, the Solteszs were booked for a Lufthansa flight to New York through Frankfurt, but Vilma Soltesz could not be moved from her wheelchair to her assigned seats, reports the Post. Again, they were turned away from the flight.
“We had 140 passengers on board, and they had connections and needed to travel,” Lufthansa spokesman Nils Haupt told the Post. “The question was never the seat belt. The question was the mobility of the passenger.”
Vilma Soltesz grew sicker as the couple tried to figure out a way home, and since she didn't trust Hungary hospitals and doctors that lacked access to her lengthy, complicated medical history, she didn't seek treatment abroad, her husband said. She died two days later and was buried in Hungary.
“I’m lonely now. Wherever I am going, I am just going alone. I am missing her a lot,” Janos Soltesz told the Post. “There were only two women in my life — my mother, who I lived with for 23 years, and Vilma, who I lived with for 33 years."
Published at 8:29 AM EST on Nov 26, 2012