Seven years after the death of Robert Dziekanski, Vancouver International Airport is facing a lawsuit after a man became so disoriented and frustrated at the lack of help offered, he tried to climb over a wall, fracturing his hip in the process.
In October, 2007, Dziekanski, 40, who did not speak English, became agitated after spending more than nine hours wandering in the airport arrivals area, before being confronted by four Mounties who stunned him several times with a Taser.
In a recently filed statement of claim, Walter Hiebert says he suffered a stroke some years earlier that left him with impaired speech and an awkward gait.
Hiebert says he was disembarked via wheelchair from a China Airlines flight from Taipei, in May 2012, transferred to a golf cart and left unattended for approximately 15 minutes, then offered a walker and given cursory directions.
Where was security?
The New Westminster man (then, 57) was left to wander the hallways of the airport unassisted for twenty minutes, before opening a set of alarmed doors — an act of desperation, his statement claims — in the hope security would arrive.
But no one came.
A video, held by the Airport Authority, but made available to Hiebert's lawyer, Paul Warnett, apparently shows his client stuck in the restricted area for six minutes, before being asked by staff to show his passport through a glass wall. The staff member then left without comment.
Frustrated at the situation, Hiebert used his wheelchair to boost himself over a wall, falling and fracturing his hip.
Hiebert's suit makes claim against several organizations, including the Vancouver Airport Authority, China Airlines Limited and Canada Border Services Agency.
'The airport should be prepared'
"These sorts of things happen to people. And one of the allegations we're making is that the airport should be prepared to handle these situations," Warnett told CBC.
"You would expect that someone is watching to make sure that you make your way down to where you're supposed to go," he said. "And we know that his movements were captured on video for approximately a half hour before he has his fall and injures himself."
In an email, the Vancouver Airport Authority expressed regret at the concern the incident caused Hiebert.
"We recognized a breakdown in customer care and immediately commenced an investigation involving personnel from the airline and other organizations at the airport," the email reads.
The email also said the VAA is yet to be served with court documents.
Hiebert's statement of claim only represents one side of a civil argument. None of his claims have yet been proven in court.