Woman Dies after Jet Blast at St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport

A departing Boeing 737 knocked several people down, resulting in one fatality.

Maho Beach St Maarten
An Air France flight lands at Sint Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport in 2008.Wikimedia Commons

A 57-year-old New Zealand woman died on Wednesday after she was knocked down by the jet blast from a Boeing 737-800 twin jet taking off from Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten. According to reports, the woman was one of "several people" holding the airport fence for support when Caribbean Airlines Flight 457 departed at approximately 5:42 p.m. local time. She was blown back by the blast and hit her head on the pavement, and despite treatment by paramedics she died shortly after.

Rolando Brison, the director of tourism for St. Maarten, told the New Zealand Herald that he met with the woman's family after her death. Her family members were reportedly standing near her when the jet blast occurred.

"I met with the family of the deceased this evening and while they recognized that what they did was wrong, through the clearly visible danger signs, they regret that risk they took turned out in the worst possible way,” he said. "At this time, I only wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones while we continue to investigate what transpired just hours ago."

As an investigation is underway, the incident is reminiscent of a 2012 accident that resulted in a viral video showing a teenage girl being thrown from the fence at SXM. She survived the ordeal, after suffering a deep cut to her head, while the man next to her, also holding the fence, broke his leg. The popularity of the video caused airport officials to add security for the sake of discouraging copycats.

Maho Beach currently features signs that warn people of the danger of jet blasts:

Maho Beach St Maarten
A sign at Maho Beach on Sint Maarten warns people of the dangers of jet blasts from departing and incoming aircraft.Wikimedia Commons

In March, Maho Beach onlookers captured video of an incoming Westjet Boeing 737 that had to pull up and make a second landing attempt after a "close call." The airline later responded to sensational headlines by downplaying the event as a "missed approach."