Off-Duty TSA Officer Jumps to His Death at Orlando International Airport

Photo: John Raoux (AP)

A man who officials say was an off-duty Transportation Security Administration officer fell to his death from the balcony of the Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Orlando International Airport on Saturday.

The incident affected flights and reportedly led to hours of delays. The airport said shortly before 3 p.m. that affected gates 70-129 had reopened but that several flights had been canceled and additional delays were “possible.”

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The Orlando Police Department said on Twitter the incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. ET., when a man in his 40s “jumped” from the hotel into the airport’s atrium area. He was reportedly transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The New York Times reported the worker had finished his shift at the airport shortly before the incident. An investigation is ongoing, however officials said it appeared to be a suicide. The TSA confirmed that the man was an off-duty officer.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer’s family, friends and everyone in our TSA family,” the agency said in a statement shared by its spokesperson Jenny Burke.

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Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport General Manager Bruce McDonald told Gizmodo in a statement by email that the hotel is working with the authorities on their investigation.

“The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is a top priority,” McDonald said. “We are saddened by the event that occurred at our hotel and our thoughts go out to all who have been affected by this terrible situation.”

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Michael Bawol, who was reportedly present when the officer jumped, told the New York Times that he initially believed the man—who was positioned on the “outer ledge of the balcony”—may have been repairing something.

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“At that moment he turned and faced the main hall, extended his arms to the side and let himself fall,” Bawol told the Times.

The TSA said that some passengers were being rescreened following the incident after “several passengers scattered into the sterile area unscreened.” Trista Eaden, a traveler who was also present, told News 13 that after hearing was she described as a “boom,” TSA agents “just told us to run, to just go through the screening.”

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Video shared to Twitter shortly after 11 a.m. captured a massive crowd waiting for screening for what was reportedly hours, but the Times reported that operations were returning to normal just after noon.

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The Orlando Police Department advised anyone experiencing delays as a result of the incident to contact their airline directly.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 800-273-TALK (8255).

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[New York Times]

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