A 57 year old woman from New Zealand has died from her serious injuries after she was knocked over by the jet blast from a departing Boeing 737 at Princess Juliana Int’l Airport, on the island of St Maarten.
The woman was witnessed clinging to the chain link airport perimeter fence along the famous Maho Beach, before she was blown backwards by the power of two CFM International CFM56-7B turbofan engines.
The St Maarten police force reported that the incident occurred around 6PM on Wednesday evening. The woman was knocked unconscious and bystanders attempted to revive her via CPR. She taken to hospital alive, but later succumbed to her “serious injuries.”
The particular stretch of beach on the Dutch territory is popular with tourists, partly because the planes fly extremely low over the sand before landing. Many thrill seekers flock to the airport to experience the power of an aircraft’s engines on takeoff, from less than 20m away.
Warning signs are attached to the perimeter fence and surrounding light poles, to warn people of the dangers of jet blast. Now, after public outrage relating to the incident, there have been calls to close Maho Beach for the public to prevent further injuries.
In a statement, St Maarten police said they visit the area daily to discourage tourists from clinging to the runway fence.
A similar incident was recorded by a planespotter at the airport in 2012, shown in the above video. A woman was blown backwards and smashed into a concrete curb by the jet blast from a JetBlue Airbus A320.