A 57-year-old tourist has died after she stood too close to an airport’s runway in the Caribbean and the engine of a large jet blew her into the ground.
The New Zealand national was trying to hold on to a fence bordering the Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Martin on Wednesday when she was thrown backward, causing her to hit her head on the concrete ground, police said in a release.
The woman, who has not been identified, was taken to a hospital where she died from her injuries, police said.
The airport is famous for its planes’ startlingly close proximity to pedestrians, who have been seen lying on the beach beneath low-flying planes.
Despite authorities cautioning about the potential danger, a number of videos posted on YouTube show thrill-seekers standing close to the runway so that they can experience the powerful blast of the planes’ engines.
One video uploaded in 2012 shows a woman being thrown headfirst into a concrete barrier after losing her grasp of a chain-link fence.
“The airport authorities and other local authorities have taken all necessary measures such as the placing of signs to warn the general public not to stand in the path of the jet blast of a departing aircraft because of the danger involved,” police said in a statement. “Police patrols on a daily basis visit that area during the busy hours to warn persons to stay away from that area during take off jet aircraft’s.”
St. Martin tourist director Rolando Brison told the New Zealand Herald he met with the victim’s family.
“While they recognised 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 told the Herald.