PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten, Thursday July 13, 2017 – A 57-year-old tourist was killed in St Maarten yesterday after the jet blast from a plane taking off from the island’s seaside airport knocked her into a wall.
The woman, reported to be from New Zealand, was holding onto a fence by the notoriously dangerous runway of the Princess Juliana International Airport, which is less than 200 feet from the beach, when the Boeing 737 operated by Caribbean Airlines took off.
The force of the jet blast knocked her over and she reportedly sustained head injuries when she hit a concrete barrier.
She was taken to hospital, but did not survive.
“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,” police spokesman Ricardo Henson said after confirming the incident.
The airport in St Maarten has been highlighted by various travel sites and publications because planes must fly low over the beach in order to land, and thrill seekers often hold on to the fence to feel the jet blast.
Henson lamented that hundreds of tourists regularly ignore signs are posted around the airport warning that the jet blast of arriving and departing planes can cause injury or death.
“Many people come just for the thrill of this main attraction, and unfortunately this time someone lost their life,” he said, noting that dozens have been injured in recent years by the jet blasts, but this is the first time someone has died.