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407-Pound Woman Dies Abroad After Being Denied Flight Home

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Getting stranded in a foreign country is a pretty terrifying experience. And in the case of one woman, it may have killed her.

A man is suing Delta, Lufthansa and KLM Airlines for the death of his wife after all 3 airlines were unable to accommodate the 407-pound woman on a flight from Hungary to the United States.

The death of a 407-pound woman after being denied boarding on three flights was “preventable,” according to an attorney for the woman’s husband, who plans to pursue legal action against three airlines.

Vilma Soltesz, 56, died of kidney failure on Oct. 24 in Hungary, where she and her husband, Janos Soltesz, took an annual vacation to a home they owned in their native country, said Soltesz’ attorney, Holly Ostrov-Ronai.

Soltesz, who had health problems, had been trying to get back to the United States, where she could see her doctors, Ostrov-Ronai said.

The couple flew from New York City to Budapest by way of Amsterdam on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Soltesz, who had one leg, got on the flight with the help of an airlift, and used a seatbelt extender when seated, Ostrov-Ronai said, adding that the couple had “no issues at all.”

“KLM asked them when they would be flying home so that they could make proper arrangements,” Ostrov-Ronai wrote in an email to ABCNews.com.

When the couple went to the airport on Oct. 15 to board a KLM night flight home to New York, they were able to board. However, Ostrov-Ronai said the captain asked Vilma Soltesz to disembark because she could not be secured in her seat due to an issue with a seat back.

“There was simply no legitimate reason in this instance for denying her boarding or forcing her to disembark,” Ostrov-Ronai said. “Their failure to make simple accommodations, that had been made prior, led to Vilma’s death. This is not best efforts in any regard.”

In a statement, KLM said “every effort” was made to help Soltesz.

After KLM denied the couple the flight home, they tried to fly back on Delta, then Lufthansa, but neither airlines could accommodate Vilma. She died two days later in Hungary.

Yes, it’s sad that this woman passed away, but who’s really to blame here? I don’t think the airlines are completely at fault. It’s not like they just turned her away before she could even get on; they all made an effort to seat her. Sadly, it just didn’t work out for them. But the thing that bugs me is this: if the wife had serious health problems going into the trip, why leave the country in the first place? Franky, I’m surprised they made it to Hungary at all.

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