A woman from New Zealand has been killed after being blown over by a jet blast at Maho Beach, on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten.
The 57-year-old tourist had been holidaying with her family when she was knocked to the concrete pavement by the force of the departing plane, fatally hitting her head.
Paramedics tried to revive the injured woman, however she later died after being brought to Sint Maarten medical centre.
Maho Beach is famously frequented by incredibly low flying planes, due to its stone’s-throw proximity to the Juliana International Airport.
As a result, Maho Beach is often referred to as ‘Av Geek Mecca’ with aviation fans travelling from all over the world to experience the thrill of being so close to an airplane as it takes off.
Law enforcement officers usually patrol the beach to make sure that tourists keep at a safe distance. Despite warnings, thrill seeking tourists often stand at the fence separating the beach from Juliana Airport in order to feel the full impact of the blast.
The woman in question had been standing close to this fence when the Boeing 737 set off for Trinidad. The plane flew directly over the tourists waiting at the fence, thrusting the woman backwards.
Sad #AvGeek day on Maho Beach: Tourist killed fence surfing. Blown over, hit head, done. http://www.smn-news.com/st-maarten-st-martin-news/26579-female-tourist-died-due-jet-blast-while-caribbean-airlines-take-off-updated-2.html … pic.twitter.com/PoCvQhQ9F5
It is not unusual for adventurous visitors to find themselves being tossed violently from the blast with some even finding themselves being pushed into the water.
Visitors are taking an enormous safety risk by defying warnings. The sheer force of a jet plane taking off is enough to up-root trees, flatten building structures and smash windows.
Although this is the first death from a jet blast at Maho Beach, there have been serious injuries before. Another woman was severely injured back in 2012 after being tossed against a concrete Jersey barrier, but thankfully survived.
Director of tourism for the island of Sint Maarten, Rolando Brison, has made the following statement:
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.
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.
In order to get a better idea of the force of the low flying planes, watch the following startling footage from Maho Beach where visitors can be seen being blown into the sea:
Our thoughts are with the woman’s family at this sad time.