Jermani Thompson’s hair became entangled in the belt loader’s machinery. She was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Jermani Thompson, 26, was functioning as a baggage handling supervisor on Tuesday evening. Thompson’s hair became entangled in the machinery of the belt loader while her unit was emptying a Frontier flight shortly before 10:30 p.m., according to her employer. She was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
What killed her is still unknown. The Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office intends to conduct an autopsy in the coming days to determine what happened.
Thompson worked for GAT, which provides ground services to airlines. GAT CEO Mike Hough says the company’s leaders are “heartbroken and are supporting her family and her friends as best as we are able.”
The accident’s timeline is still unknown.
However, several passengers at the airport questioned how it could have happened in the first place. They brought into question whether the company’s safety policies are comprehensive enough. “You wear a hairnet in a restaurant,” Patrick Zertuche, a visitor from San Antonio, asked, “why aren’t you doing a better job of protecting people in a potentially dangerous workplace?”
Blaire Bass, a traveler, added that the policies are “something the airport itself needs to take on.” Bass expressed her hope that authorities “figure it out” and that “this never happens again.”
GAT’s employee handbook was obtained by WWL-TV. “Long hairstyles should be worn with hair pulled back off the face and neck to avoid interfering with job performance,” it says on page 30. It’s unclear if Thompson was adhering to this policy at the time the accident occurred.
Hough asserts that GAT will “never prioritize on-time performance over safety,” and he reminded employees of this policy in a company-wide email last week.
WWL-TV followed up with a question about how strictly the hair policy is enforced. Hough has not yet responded.
Armstrong International and Frontier Airlines representatives both expressed their condolences to Thompson’s family.
“Jermani was a part of our Airport family,” said airport Director Kevin Dolliole, “and we will continue to support one another in any way we can during this trying time.”