Last updated: 04:45 PM ET, Sun August 23 2015

American Airlines Facing Lawsuit for Losing Man With Alzheimer's at LaGuardia

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | August 23, 2015

American Airlines Facing Lawsuit for Losing Man With Alzheimer's at LaGuardia

Keraphline Dupuy’s 52-year-old father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and she had decided to fly him back to their native Haiti for care by family members.

Josaphat Dupuy never got there. After Keraphline dropped him off at New York City’s LaGuardia airport, he vanished. Found three days later walking through Brooklyn in the January cold, freezing and wet, the elder Dupuy had wandered 25 miles from the airport. Claiming no explanation or apology by the airline after the incident, Keraphline is planning a federal lawsuit, the New York Daily News reported.

When father, daughter and grandmother arrived at the American Airlines terminal for the 6 a.m. flight at 3 a.m. “First thing we did was tell the attendant that my father has Alzheimer’s and dementia and he cannot be by himself,” Dupuy, 27, said to the Daily News.

With another relative waiting at a Miami layover, “We put him in a wheelchair with the attendant, watching him get to the gate. And that was the last time we saw my dad,” Dupuy, who works in Homeland Security and is an active member of the military, told the Daily News.

Then the family member in Miami said Josaphat didn’t show up.

The Daily News said Keraphline was initially calm, but started getting more and more worried after multiple calls to the airline, eventually returning to the airport for answers.

A ticket counter representative for American Airlines said Josaphat wasn’t noted in their system as needing special assistance, according to the Daily News, though Keraphline had made that specific request.

Perusing video footage, the Daily News said Port Authority police discovered he had neither passed through security nor boarded the flight.

The hunt began, with cops searching all of LaGuardia’s terminals and an increasingly-exhausted Keraphline driving by old Brooklyn addresses.

“I was freaking out, I thought he died,” she recalled. “His cell phone wasn’t working, nothing.”

Then his unattended luggage was found on a Brooklyn street. In addition to his passport, it also contained papers from New York University Langone Medical Center in Manhattan which Josaphat had visited complaining of a backache while he was missing. Keraphline angrily said to the Daily News he was “just put back out into the streets.” He was also later billed almost $1,000 for the visit, the Daily News said.

Finally, a Gerritsen Beach resident spotted Josaphat on the street and found Keraphline’s contact information in his wallet.

With temperatures in the teens, doctors said the elder Dupuy was lucky to be alive.

Temperatures dipped into the teens during his three January days on the streets. Doctors said Josaphat was lucky to be alive. He later spent two weeks recovering in an intensive care unit.

According to the Daily News, American Airlines didn’t offer apologies or an explanation, but did refund the $304.60 plane ticket that went unused.

“This is a textbook case of negligence,” said Keraphline’s attorney, Peter Withey to the Daily News. “We are looking for them to at least acknowledge this even happened.”

“I want American Airlines to take responsibility for what happened,” Dupuy told the Daily News.

An airline spokesperson declined to discuss details of the case with the Daily News, citing the imminent litigation.

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