Gaby Assouline Florida woman dies eleven months after fall from wheelchair while boarding Southwest Flight, with previously filed lawsuit alleging airline refusing to help disabled woman. Fall led to woman becoming paralyzed from the neck down.
A disabled Florida woman who previously claimed becoming paralyzed after falling down a plane walkway because Southwest Airlines staffers refused to help her has died. The woman’s death comes eleven months following the alleged incident.
Gaby Assouline, 25, who suffered from a genetic muscle disease, was using a wheelchair while traveling to Denver from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in February 2022 when she and her mother asked an airline employee for help, according to an ongoing lawsuit.
Assouline and her family assert that her request was refused and that she was forced to make her way down the jet bridge on her own.
Efforts for the disabled woman to ‘negotiate’ the walkway on her own led to Assouline being ‘thrown’ from the wheelchair and landing on her head. The fall according to the suit led to Gaby incurring catastrophic injuries and leaving her paralyzed from the neck down.
After 11 bedridden months, Assouline passed away Sunday, her family said on a GoFundMe page.
Forced to speak through her eyes
‘Gaby was not alone at the end,’ they wrote. ‘We were all blessed to be with her bedside, crying, praying and sharing Gaby stories.’
Her mother, Sandra Assouline, said last year that her once-vivacious daughter was forced to use a feeding tube and could no longer speak after the plane incident.
‘She would speak with her eyes, it was terrible. My wife never left our daughter,’ previously said her father, Felix Assouline.
‘The fear and pain she is showing in her eyes when she wakes up in those brief moments of clarity is too much to bear,’ her mom said at the time.
Assouline said her daughter suffered from a disorder that turns muscle tissue into bone, a malady that hampered her mobility.
The family’s lawyer said Gaby had a ticket that stated she needed assistance.
‘And now they wanna say that she refused help,’ family lawyer, Robert C. Solomon said.
Southwest claim disabled woman refusing rather than requesting help
Southwest contended in court papers that Gaby refused rather than requested help, a claim that drew the ire of her family.
Her mother maintains that she and her daughter formally requested the use of a wheelchair and for staffers to help Gaby move around the airport.
The family alleged both Southwest Airlines and its contractor, G2 Secured Staff, were careless and that someone should have assisted her as she crossed the jetbridge and warned her of the potential dangers crossing the walkway using a wheelchair.
The airline acknowledged Gaby’s passing this week.
‘Southwest offers its sincere condolences to Ms. Assouline’s family, friends and all whose lives she touched,’ the statement reads. ‘We have a more than 51-year commitment to caring for our People and Customers and remain engaged with the parties involved.’
Assouline’s family said it had hoped Gaby would eventually be able to return home before her condition deteriorated.
‘Gaby’s life was tragically interrupted 11 months ago but she put up the greatest fight with grace, friends, laughter and the strong belief that she would leave the hospital and come home very soon,’ they wrote online. ‘Unfortunately, complications robbed Gaby of that ending.’
The family sued for damages of over $30,000, but the family’s lawyer claims damages could now reach up to the millions.