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Lawsuit: Southwest staff didn't properly buckle disabled man, causing injury, death

A lawsuit against Southwest Airlines has been filed by the family of a Prairie Village man who was thrown against the cabin wall on a flight last year after his seat belt came undone.

Eugene Dreyer suffered injuries that would lead to his death months later, his family alleges in the wrongful death suit, which points to the carelessness and negligence of airline employees.

Dreyer, 81, a stockbroker and financial adviser, had lost the use of his legs due to polio and was in a wheelchair when he and his wife boarded a Southwest plane in Kansas City on Feb. 21, 2017, according to the lawsuit.

The flight was going to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Dreyer was wheeled onto the plane by a Southwest employee and seated in the first row. Before take-off, Dreyer asked for a seat belt extension, and a flight attendant buckled him in using the seat belt and extension, according to the suit.

Neither Dreyer, his wife or an assistant traveling with them touched or adjusted the belt during the flight, the suit says.

As the plane landed and began to decelerate, the belt "failed to restrain him" and he "flew forward into the bulkhead wall," according to the lawsuit allegations.

"Eugene Dreyer hit his head, leg, foot, shoulder and other parts of his body onto the front bulkhead wall," according to the suit.

The lawsuit says he suffered severe injuries to his head, shoulder, foot and leg, including a broken femur.

"He suffered loss of cognitive functions and severe depression," according to the suit.

The suit alleges that his death on April 23, 2017, was a direct result of those injuries.

The suit was filed on behalf of Dreyer's wife and two children and seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Southwest officials said Tuesday they're not commenting on the matter "ahead of the legal process."

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