Coroner identifies United Airlines pilot who died of heart attack

Coroner identifies United Airlines pilot who died of heart attack
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - The Ada County Coroner's Office has identified the United Airlines pilot who died late Thursday after his flight to Seattle was diverted to Boise.

The coroner says Henry Skillern, 63, of Humble, Texas, died of an acute myocardial infarction and listed his death as natural. He died a 11:55 p.m. at St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise.

Airport officials say United flight 1603 landed in Boise just before 8 p.m. Thursday and the pilot was taken to a local hospital.

A passenger on the flight said a crew member made an in-flight announcement on the loudspeaker asking if anyone on board was a physician.

In a conversation to air traffic control, a member of the United crew said, "We got a man down, chest compressions going on right now. I'm not sure too much right now." (** Click here to listen to the full conversation with air traffic control **)

The Boeing 737 landed safely and the pilot was taken to Saint Alphonsus Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, said United spokeswoman Christen David.

"I am sad to confirm that our co-worker passed away last night. Our thoughts are with his family at this time," she said in an email Friday.

Passenger Ken Martin says a woman sitting next to him volunteered to help perform CPR because she is a first year resident doctor. She told Martin the pilot was a heavy man, weighing more than 300 pounds, and they had to move him out of the cockpit and into the first class cabin to perform CPR.

She also told Martin they could not revive the pilot, and was visibly upset when she returned to her seat. But despite all this commotion, the crew kept control of the situation.

"I'm really impressed with all the flight attendants," said passenger Bryant Magill. "They kept themselves calm. They kept it professional. There was no panic on the plane."

Davis said the flight landed in Seattle just after midnight.

"I saw them working on the captain, I did not see much of it other than that, but I knew something was wrong," said Bryant Mehill, a passenger on the flight.

No one else on board was injured during the flight.