It seems standard for a cleaning crew at an airport to discover unusual things once a plane is pulled into a hangar for cleaning and prep for the next flight. Items that may be expected to be discovered include be bags, money, credit cards, hygiene products and maybe even drugs. However, some things you never expect to find during a normal day or night at work – such as a dead fetus.
On Monday, August 6, 2018, American Airlines Flight 1942 departed from Charlotte, North Carolina and landed at La Guardia Airport in New York. However, something was different this time. As the cleaning crew proceeded with their normal duties, a “gruesome” discovery was made – a dead fetus was left in the toilet in the plane’s lavatory. Initially, Fox 46 reported that the age of the fetus was unknown and how the fetus ended up in the lavatory as unknown. http://www.fox46charlotte.com/news/local-news/dead-fetus-found-on-commercial-plane-landed-in-new-york-from-charlotte.
However, according to the New York Post on Tuesday, August 7th, law enforcement has confirmed that the dead fetus came from a Brooklyn teenager who suffered from a miscarriage while on the flight to New York from North Carolina. The 18-year-old teenager allegedly rushed to the lavatory after everyone else had exited the plane and told the flight crew that it was an emergency, as her twin sister escorted her. A flight attendant told law enforcement that the 18-year-old looked “ill” when she came out of the lavatory. Law enforcement has stated that they want to interview both twins, but at this point it is believed that the 18-year-old suffered from a miscarriage and did not commit a criminal act. Sources have reported that the fetus was a foot-long and between “three to six months along.” https://nypost.com/2018/08/07/dead-fetus-found-on-plane-was-left-by-teen-who-suffered-a-miscarriage/.
If you don’t already know by now, a fetus is “an unborn offspring, from the embryo stage (the end of the eighth week after conception, when the major structures have formed) until birth. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=3424. Depending on the fetus’ gestational age, it may be able to survive outside of the womb. Usually, a fetus is viable outside of the womb when it is at least 22 weeks.
Miscarriage vs. Premature Delivery of a Fetus
A miscarriage occurs when a fetus dies in the womb and the pregnancy ends. Miscarriages typically occur early in pregnancy but can occur anywhere from the very beginning to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Once a miscarriage occurs a woman’s body usually expels of the dead fetus on its own and the fetus exits the body just as it would when a woman has a vaginal delivery. On the other hand, a woman may prematurely deliver a fetus for a variety of reasons. When this happens, if the fetus is viable it may be able to live outside of the womb with the proper medical attention and care.
As you can probably imagine, it is unconscionable to impose criminal liability on a woman who suffered a miscarriage and left the dead fetus in a public place. However, it is a different outcome if a fetus is viable and left unattended. In that instance, the mother may be liable for criminal conduct. Initially, it was unknown as to if a miscarriage had occurred in the lavatory of Flight 1942 on August 6, 2018, but it now appears that authorities have deemed that a miscarriage occurred. However, until all relevant tests are completed, it cannot be totally ruled out that criminal charges will not be pressed against the teenager because the fetus may have been born alive.
Although this is a devastating and heartbreaking story, at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC, we understand that sometimes life can place you in undesirable situations. Taking this situation into account, there are many factors that should be considered before shaming the teenager for not speaking up after leaving the fetus in the lavatory. For example, what if she in fact did not know that she was pregnant until the moment she delivered the fetus? What if she was raped and became pregnant as a result and was scared to speak up? What if she was raped and the rapist threatened to kill her or her family if she said anything? The list of possibilities goes on as to what the surrounding circumstances could have been.
If you have found yourself in a situation where you are facing criminal charges, call our office for a free initial consultation from one of our seasoned criminal defense attorneys. Our attorneys are skilled, thorough and take pride in informing clients of their legal rights. Call our office today at 704-714-1450.