Who Was Gaby Assouline? Disabled Woman Dies Year After She Was Thrown from Her Wheelchair on Plane Because Southwest Airlines Crew Refused to Help Her

Assouline hit the ground on her head, breaking her neck and injuring her spinal cord, leaving her speechless and paralyzed from the neck down.

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A disabled woman has died, 11 months after she fell from her wheelchair while boarding a Southwest Airlines plane because she was refused proper help by the airline crew. Gaby Assouline, 25, was boarding a flight from Fort Lauderdale Airport in February 2022, when she and her mother asked for help from the airline crew, according to an ongoing lawsuit.

Assouline, who suffered from a genetic muscle disease was traveling from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Denver when the incident happened. According to Assouline and her family, after her request was turned down, she was left on her own to descend the jet bridge.

Dead after Justice Denied

Gaby Assouline
Gaby Assouline Twitter

According to Assouline's family, the airline crew refused to help her deboard the plane despite multiple requests. She then started to deboard on her own when her electric wheelchair hit a junction in the jet bridge which caused her to be thrown from the chair.

Assouline hit the ground on her head, breaking her neck and injuring her spinal cord, leaving her speechless and paralyzed from the neck down.

Gaby Assouline
Gaby Assouline suffered multiple injuries including a broken neck after the accident and left paralyzed for the rest of her life Twitter

Assouline died on Sunday after spending 11 months in bed, according to her family's GoFundMe page.

"Gaby's life was tragically interrupted 11 months ago but she put up the greatest fight with grace, friends, laughter and the strong belief that she would leave the hospital and come home very soon," they wrote in a GoFundMe page.

"Unfortunately, complications robbed Gaby of that ending.

"Gaby was not alone at the end," they continued. "We were all blessed to be with her bedside, crying, praying and sharing Gaby stories."

Gaby Assouline
Gaby Assouline with her mother Sandra Assouline Twitter

Following the plane mishap, her mother, Sandra Assouline, claimed last year that her once-vivacious daughter was forced to use a feeding tube and was unable to talk. At the time, her mother remarked, "The fear and pain she is showing in her eyes when she wakes up in those brief moments of clarity is too much to bear."

Blame Game On

Assouline claimed that her daughter was limited in her movement due to a condition that causes muscle tissue to transform into bone. Southwest claimed in court documents that Gaby refused help rather than asking for it, which infuriated Gaby's relatives.

student Makhzoomi forced out of southwest airlines
Southwest Airlines Reuters

Her mother insists that she and her daughter asked for a wheelchair to be used and for staff members to assist Gaby in navigating the airport.

"Southwest offers its sincere condolences to Ms. Assouline's family, friends and all whose lives she touched," Southwest Airline said in a statement addressing Assouline's death.

"We have a more than 51-year commitment to caring for our People and Customers and remain engaged with the parties involved," it added.

Assouline was diagnosed with a genetic condition at the age of 12 that made it challenging for her to travel great distances on foot. When the disaster happened in February of last year, she was getting on the plane to go see her sister in Denver.

Gaby Assouline
Gaby Assouline Twitter

The lawsuit claims that something caused her to be "thrown" from the wheelchair while she was crossing the jet bridge.

"We believe something in that jet bridge caused her to be ejected," Robert Solomon, the family's attorney, told Local 10 News.

Assouline died just two weeks after her father Felix posted on the GoFundMe website that her condition was deteriorating. "Now more than ever, Gaby needs our prayers like never before. We were given some heart wrenching news about her condition that we never expected," he wrote.

"She's a prisoner in her own body," Solomon told CBS News after the accident. "I mean it's, you see her, she's with it, she understands, but she's just literally sitting there fighting for her life. It really rips your heart out."

"That's why I told the family, I said, 'We'll do everything in our power to get you guys justice.' Because there's no plausible explanation that you drop your child off at an airport, you take them all the way to the gate, and then you get a phone call that your child fell and broke their neck."

According to Assouline's mother Sandra, the last time she saw her before the accident was when she was allowed to drop off her daughter at the gate using a pass.