Husband Sues Airlines After Sick, Obese Wife Dies Abroad

By Ida Siegal
|  Thursday, Jan 31, 2013  |  Updated 12:20 PM EDT
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The husband of an obese Bronx woman who died in Hungary after she was refused boarding on three airlines is suing the companies. Ida Siegal reports.

NBC 4 New York

The husband of an obese Bronx woman who died in Hungary after she was refused boarding on three airlines is suing the companies. Ida Siegal reports.

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The husband of an obese Bronx woman who died in Hungary after three airlines refused to let her board to return to the U.S. is suing the companies. 

Vilma Soltesz, 56, traveled with her husband, Janos Soltesz, to her native Hungary last October to see family. Vilma Soltesz, who weighed more than 400 pounds and was diabetic and in a wheelchair, became more sick while overseas and her doctor told her to return to New York immediately.

But at the airport, the skylift -- a machine airlines use to transport people onto the plane -- was broken. KLM Airline said she couldn't board. Two other airlines, Delta and Lufthansa, told her the same thing. 

"He just look at her and said, 'No, I'm not taking her,'" said Janos Soltesz. "I was crushed."

The couple searched for other ways to get home to her doctor but Vilma Soltesz died in Hungary.

"She just went to sleep. She never woke up," said Janos. "She was my life." 

The ordeal has prompted questions over whether Vilma should have been flying at all in her condition. Janos Soltesz said the doctor gave them the OK, and so did the airline.

"If they have really a doubt in their mind, they can refuse right there. We not going, we stay home," he said. "But they encourage us."

Janos Soltesz has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the airlines, alleging recklessness, wrongful death and gross negligence.

"The case is pretty simple to me," said his attorney, Peter Ronai. "They were hired to do a job and to finish it. And they miserably failed." 

KLM, Delta and Lufthansa said they tried to get Vilma Soltesz on board but were unable to do it safely. Delta said employees did everything they could but in the end her physical condition made it impossible.

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