Parents say sick kids were without food, medicine, adult supervision overnight at airport
LONGVIEW, Wash. (KPTV) — A group of kids from a medical foundation based in Washington ended up stranded on the East Coast over the weekend.
Parents say the kids were on their way home from camp when they ended up having to spend the night at the airport without the proper food, medicine or adult supervision.
For 8-year-old Hudson Gonzales Hoyt, camp is all about the activities.
“I got to have fun. I got to play games,” he said.
But his mom Kristie Hoyt knows this camp called Camp New Friends is much more than that.
“They’re all the same there, they’re all welcomed. They’re no longer an outsider, they’re no longer the child who misses school all the time to go to a doctor’s appointment,” she said.
That’s because most of these kids like Hudson have neurofibromatosis, which causes tumors in the nervous system.
Every year through a Washington-based foundation called Dino Doozer, the kids get to go this camp and have a great time.
But parents say this year’s trip didn’t end so well.
“I just wanted him back home,” said parent Ariel Rahier.
The kids were set to fly from Charlottesville, Virginia to Charlotte, North Carolina to Portland. That flight was supposed to get in around 10 p.m. Friday but because of a mechanical delay, the kids didn’t get in until the next morning, Saturday at about 11 a.m.
That means they had to spend the night at the airport in Charlotte.
American Airlines says the kids were kept in a room for unaccompanied minors – safe and comfortable in the care of staff.
But parents say that was not the case. They claim their kids didn’t get meals, didn’t have access to their nightly medicine, weren’t able to go to the bathroom, and that the older kids ended up taking care of the younger ones.
“That never should have happened. They never should have been put in that place. We made all the provisions necessary. The airline failed,” said Maggie Kennedy, community outreach coordinator with Dino Doozer.
Rahier said, “They’re in a lot of pain. They’ve been sitting for hours. All of them have withgone either back, hip, brain surgery.”
“I don’t feel comfortable, there there’s no food or water or bathroom or restroom,” said Hudson.
Kristie says Hudson even called, begging her to drive across country and pick him up.
“You feel helpless and you’re terrified for your child that he is scared, and you can’t do anything,” she said. “All I could do was sit there and say, ‘You will come home. You are coming home. I will get you home.’”
The kids eventually made it to PDX and to a warm welcome.
But parents say the airline needs to work on their policy when it comes to unaccompanied minors.
They are looking into it. American Airlines sent FOX 12 a statement saying in part, “Our team is in the process of reaching out to the families involved and sincerely apologizes for this travel experience. We will be reviewing with our teams internally to understand how we can do better next time.”