SALT LAKE CITY — Police continued Tuesday to investigate the death of a 30-year-old man who was found inside a Delta Air Line’s engine Monday night at the Salt Lake City International Airport on a plane that was preparing to take off.
Tuesday afternoon, police identified the man as 30-year-old Kyler Efinger of Park City. Efinger was a ticketed passenger for a flight heading from Salt Lake City to Denver.
The investigation began when a manager of an airport store contacted the airport’s control center at 9:52 p.m. Monday to report a “disturbance involving a passenger” on the secured side of the airport. The nature of that disturbance is still being investigated, according to Salt Lake police.
The man was in the A concourse. After leaving the store, the man used an emergency exit door to access the airfield. That door is equipped with an alarm that immediately notified airport security, according to police.
The man breached a security door at 9:54 p.m. 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 9:30 p.m. The flight, with 95 passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants on board, was being de-iced when police believe the man crawled into the engine area.
As officers and airport personnel searched for the man, a pilot reported seeing him at 10:04 p.m. A minute later, police requested that the Air Traffic Control Tower be advised of the situation. At 10:06 p.m., personal items believed to be Efinger’s, including clothing and shoes, were found on a runway, according to police.
Police say by 10:08 p.m., “dispatchers informed SLCPD officers the man was underneath an aircraft and had accessed the engine. SLCPD officers requested FAA air traffic controllers notify the pilot to shut down the aircraft’s engines.” A minute later, Efinger was spotted and pulled out of the engine’s intake cowling.
Police originally said the plane engine was off. Tuesday afternoon, they said that when officers found Efinger, he was unconscious and “partially inside a wing-mounted engine of an occupied commercial aircraft on the de-icing pad. The aircraft’s engines were rotating. The specific stage of engine operation remains under investigation.”
“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.”
The plane eventually was forced to return to the gate and the flight was canceled, according to Delta. Police, however, say after the unconscious man was found in the engine area, the passengers were forced to get off the aircraft while it was still on the de-icing pad and transported back to the terminal.
The passengers were then 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.
The incident is under investigation, and airport officials said they are working with the Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, Salt Lake police and Transportation Security Administration.