Thursday, April 08, 2010


You couldn’t make this one up if you wanted to. A couple of German women, the widow and stepdaughter of a 91-year-old man, attempted to depart from England by trying to sneak his corpse aboard an airliner. They figured out a one-way ticket for a passenger was a lot cheaper than shipping him by air in a hermetically sealed, zinc-lined coffin, as required by law. They placed him in a wheelchair, hid his face behind a pair of sunglasses, and made it as far as the line of people at the airline’s ticket counter.

A spokeswoman for the airport said "it is a bit of a strange one to be honest"

By Russell Jenkins

The Times
April 7, 2010

Two women tried to board an easyJet flight with a dead relative strapped into a wheelchair, saying that he was disabled, frail and “always likes to sleep like that”.

The widow and stepdaughter of Curt Willi Jarant, 91, insist that he was moving and breathing on the way to Liverpool John Lennon airport. But staff called a medical team after noticing that he was cold and motionless.

After he was found to have died, Merseyside Police arrested the women, Gitta Jarant, 66, and Anke Anusic, 44, on suspicion of failing to give notification of a death. They were later released on police bail until June 1.

The coroner is awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination but police sources have suggested that it is likely to show that the man died earlier from natural causes. The flights to Berlin had been booked several weeks ago, when Mr Jarant, who had been living with his wife in Oldham for the past four years, was still alive.

The family had booked a taxi minibus to take them to the airport in Merseyside, where they arrived at about 11am on Saturday for the 1.45pm flight. They had also booked help for their “disabled” relative.

Andrew Millea, an airport worker, told how he was instructed to ease the man from the front seat of the minibus into the wheelchair.

“She told me that he was elderly and frail and also very tired, so I would have to lift him out of the taxi and into the wheelchair,” he said.

“I immediately felt unsure about the situation but I did my best to help by carefully lifting the man from his seat. To my horror his face fell sideways against mine — it was ice cold.

“I knew straight away that the man was dead but they reassured me that he always sleeps like that. So I placed the body into the wheelchair and pushed the man to the back of the easyJet queue.”

The women, who were accompanied by young children, continued to insist that the old man was sleeping as a medical team, alerted by security staff on the concourse, tried to take his pulse.

Mr Millea said: “The older lady spoke both English and German but pretended she could not understand what was being said to her. The second lady encouraged the young children to ‘tell the man that is how your granddad always sleeps’. We had to remove the family from the queue and took the man to a side room, where our first-aid staff confirmed that he was dead. I was absolutely shocked. They even asked if they could travel without him.”

Last night the two women, both German, insisted he had been breathing on the journey. Mrs Jarant described her husband as the “best man in the world” adding: “My Willi is my god. I have loved my Willi for 22 years.”

Ms Anusic said that Mr Jarant, a former pilot with a Russian airline, had suffered from Alzheimer’s and wanted to return to Germany to end his life in his own country. She said: “They would think that for 24 hours we would carry a dead person? This is ridiculous. He was moving, he was breathing. Eight people saw him.”

Mrs Jarant said that she would be demanding an apology from the police and the airport. She has contacted the German embassy. “This is very upsetting. I loved Willi very much and I have been treated like a criminal when I have just lost my husband,” she said.

Bodies being repatriated across international boundaries are required to have the necessary paperwork and be contained inside hermetically sealed, zinc-lined coffins in the cargo hold.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “At 11am on Saturday 3 April, 2010, police at Liverpool John Lennon airport were alerted to the death of a 91-year-old man in the terminal building. Two women aged 41 and 66 were arrested on suspicion of failing to give notification of death. They have been released on bail. The coroner has been informed and police are continuing with their inquiries.”

A spokeswoman for easyJet said: “Two female passengers arrived at Liverpool John Lennon airport to check in for the EZY 7223 flight to Berlin with an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair. On arrival at the airport, staff were immediately concerned about his health and the first aid team were called. It was then discovered the passenger was, in fact, deceased and the police were called.”

Leah Gandy, 22, who was working on the easyJet check-in desk, said: “This is the most shocking thing I have ever seen. It sent shivers down my spine.”

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