BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Man watches as wife dies on plane
Lesley Birds
Mrs Birds had complained of swollen legs and breathlessness
A man has told how he saw his wife die on a holiday jet, despite attempts by passengers and crew to save her.

Mother-of-five Lesley Birds, 41, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, was taken ill late on Monday night on an Easyjet flight from Majorca to Luton.

Paul Birds, 45, said his wife had felt ill before the flight but a doctor at the airport cleared her to fly.

"We were expecting them to say she was not fit to fly," he said. "I don't think they should have let her fly."

He said his wife had complained of swollen legs and breathlessness for the last two days of the family holiday.

Fell unconscious

He said she could not walk by the time they arrived at the airport for the flight home and he was so concerned he eventually got her checked out by a doctor.

"The doctor came over and checked her chest. He just told her to breathe steadily and get on the flight."

Mr Birds said his wife's condition deteriorated about an hour into the flight as she sat next to her 12-year-old daughter Hayley.

"She was asleep, then the next thing I know she just jumped up, put her hands up to the side of her face and then she went unconscious."

The flight was immediately diverted to Barcelona while two nurses on the plane battled to save Mrs Birds.

She was pronounced dead at hospital shortly after landing.

The remaining 115 passengers were put up in hotels overnight and the flight was rescheduled for Tuesday morning.

Newly married

Mr and Mrs Birds, who only married in September, had been on holiday for two weeks with members of their family, some of whom had already flown home.

On the flight back with the couple were Mrs Birds's daughter Hayley and Mr Birds's two sons, Dominic, seven and Joshua, five.

Mr Birds said he was now trying to arrange to get his wife's body back to Sheffield, where the family lives in the Parson Cross area.

He said he had nothing but praise for Easyjet and the British Consulate staff but was still not sure how he was going to get his wife home.

He said: "We just want Lesley back so we can have a funeral. There's women and there's women, but she was one on her own. Her motto was 'life is not a rehearsal'."

Mrs Birds's daughter Hayley said: "Everyone said she was always laughing. She was as happy as Larry."

A Foreign Office spokesman said the cause of death was not yet known.

Plane diverted as passenger dies
19 Jun 07 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific