A horrific event took place at the Salt Lake City International Airport on January 1st. Around 9:52pm, a 30-year-old man from Park City, Utah named Kyler Efinger breached airport security in a manic state and crawled into the engine of a commercial A220-100 aircraft undergoing de-icing operations.
According to family statements, Efinger had a history of bipolar disorder stemming from bullying in high school. He used medical marijuana to self-medicate. The stress of traveling to see his dying grandfather combined with a confrontation at the airport seems to have triggered a severe manic episode.
Judd Efinger said his son, Kyler Efinger, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 10 years ago. He said it was triggered by severe bullying in high school.
Efinger ran through emergency exit doors onto the tarmac, removed all his clothes, and ran to the south end of the airport's west runway. Despite the engine still rotating, he crawled "partially inside" the engine intake cowling.
When officers arrived at the plane, they found Efinger unconscious and “partially inside” one of the commercial plane’s wing-mounted engines, which were still rotating, police said, noting “the specific stage of engine operation remains under investigation.”–CNN
When police officers arrived, they found Efinger unconscious. They pulled him from the engine and attempted CPR and other life-saving measures, but he sadly did not survive the traumatic injuries.
The pilot had been alerted to shut down the engine, but it was still spinning when Efinger crawled inside. The Delta Air Lines flight set to depart to Denver was canceled and passengers rebooked.
Efinger's family has questioned whether the airport could have intervened faster to save him. However, airport officials have stated that security measures worked as intended.
“He’s a soccer player and a skater, so I guess he ran a large distance on an open runway, you know, to this de-icing area. Unfortunately, took off his clothes,” Judd Efinger said. “But it just speaks to the state. You know, he’s just so manic at that point that he just didn’t have any rational thoughts.”
This distressing case illustrates the complications of mental illness as well as the need for enhanced airport security and emergency response protocols. It serves as a sobering reminder that safety should be the top priority at all airports.