‘It’s perplexing’: Concerns raised at Salt Lake airport following security breach and man’s death
Jan 3, 2024, 11:26 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2024, 9:20 am
SALT LAKE CITY — Police released new details about the moments that led up to officers finding an unconscious man inside a plane engine at Salt Lake City International Airport Monday.
Salt Lake City police public information officer Brent Weisberg said the disturbance an airport store manager reported had to do with statements Kyler Efinger made to employees.
“When this individual got to the airport he went to a store,” Weisberg said. “There was some sort of conversation, interactions with some store employees, and the manager felt uncomfortable about that. The individual made some statements that were concerning to the manager.”
He said there was a five-minute delay between the time of the disturbance and when officers were notified of the situation. According to police’s timeline, it was reported at 9:56 p.m.
“We understand that this is a very unusual event, we’re fortunate that this doesn’t happen often but we do have a lot of security that is in place at the airport,” Weisberg said.
He said the department is investigating how Efinger was able to pass through the emergency exit and make it to the tarmac, as well as what happened in his life in the hours and days before it happened.
“We do understand the concerns that may exist out there,” Weisberg said. He said the department constantly reviews its airport safety and security protocols.
Former Ogden Airport manager Jon Greiner said this security breach shows a failure in the airport’s emergency plan.
“You have what you call an ASP,” he said. “It’s an airport security plan that you’re responsible (for) as the manager of the airport and inside of that plan is every door, every fence, everything that allows anybody to get inside of the airport because TSA wants it secure.”
Greiner said TSA does inspections annually to make sure the plan is effective and up to date. Part of the plan is training for everyone who has a badge to get into the airport operations area.
“Everybody in there goes through a training class every two years, see something, say something, do something,” Greiner said. “You’re guaranteeing in that document that you’ll have response from local law enforcement in less than five minutes.”
According to police’s timeline, it took officers 12 minutes to reach Efinger from the time the emergency exit alarm was triggered to the time they discovered him unconscious.
“I don’t think our response time was delayed in anything in this,” Weisberg said. “Our officers acted appropriately, they acted as quickly as possible.”
He said many times officers need an escort to cross runways or taxiways. He said they can’t always use sirens or flashing lights like they can on city streets.
Greiner said other people should have intervened, along with police.
“It’s kind of surprising to me that somebody can get through one of those doors, even though it set off the alarm, and get all the way across the airport where everybody on that airport tarmac has had the same training,” he said.
He said security breaches like this one can come with large fines from TSA. Greiner said the situation could have resulted in harm done to other people.
“If a guy gets on a plane, he’s got a gun and whatever … it’s the what if,” Greiner said.
Police said when Efinger was found inside the cowling of the plane’s engine, the engines were not operating in a way where they could have caused physical intake.
“He did not have any contact or transfer through the blade,” Weisberg said. After Efinger was discovered, he was given life-saving attempts but ultimately died at the scene. His cause of death is still unknown.
“Based on this individual’s behavior and some of the things that they, the officers observed, those officers wanted to take every step possible to make sure they could render as much first aid in that emergency situation as possible, including that naloxone,” Weisberg said.
A spokesperson for the airport said it doesn’t have anything to release until the investigation is complete. The spokesperson did note that there are designated emergency exits that lead out to the airfield that passengers and employees can use if they need to evacuate from the airport quickly.