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  • New York Post

    Girl, 8, dies after mid-flight medical episode on Chicago-bound plane while flying with her family for vacation

    By Patrick Reilly,


    An 8-year-old girl died Thursday after she became unresponsive on a Chicago-bound flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Peoria, Illinois, officials said.

    Sydney Weston was flying with her family from Joplin, Missouri for vacation in the Windy City when she suffered a medical emergency mid-flight.

    The plane was diverted and landed at General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport in Illinois around 7 a.m. after the emergency was reported.
    The family was on their way to vacation in Chicago. Facebook / Rebecca Lichtenberg

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    Sydney Weston was 8 years old. Facebook / Rebecca Lichtenberg

    “Upon landing in Peoria, she was not breathing and had no pulse,” the Peoria County Coroner’s Office said in a statement .

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    Emergency responders met the plane at the airport.

    She was taken to to OSF Healthcare Saint Francis Medical Center where “despite aggressive resuscitative efforts,” she ultimately died, the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

    Flight data from FlightAware shows United flight 5121 departed Joplin at 5:51 a.m., diverted while traveling to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and landed in Peoria at 7:02 a.m.


    The flight was operated by the regional SkyWest airline, which has contracts with several other major airlines, according to United.

    SkyWest told The Post that the flight was forced to land due to a passenger in “medical distress.”
    The flight made an emergency landing in Peoria, Illinois. Facebook / Teri Carlson
    The girl became unresponsive on a flight from Joplin, Missouri, to Chicago. FlightAware
    Airplane crew members and personnel at a medical center tried to save the girl’s life. Instagram / @whitneyweston416

    “We appreciate the efforts of our crewmembers who responded quickly to assist and the medical personnel who met the aircraft,” the airline said.

    An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday. The coroner’s office said it will provide updates when it’s completed.

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