Airport says no security changes needed after man found dead in airplane engine last week

Jan 9, 2024, 8:56 PM | Updated: Jan 10, 2024, 6:31 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Department of Airports officials outlined security measures taken during an incident where a Park City man used an emergency exit door to access the airfield and later died after being found inside the cowling of an airplane engine last week.

The 30-year-old Park City man had a ticket for a flight to Denver, Colorado. His family told KSL he likely had a manic episode when he had a confrontation with an airport store employee, then was later found by police in a plane engine in the de-icing area. They said he was traveling to see his dying grandfather and had missed his flight.

Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Salt Lake City Department of Airports, said airport officials reviewed Monday’s security response and concluded their investigation. Other agencies, including the Salt Lake City Police Department, FAA, NTSB and TSA are still investigating the incident involving Kyler Efinger.

“We did sit down with all the key parties, the TSA, PD from downtown, our own team and I think the general conclusion from a security perspective is that this went fairly well,” Wyatt said. “From beginning to end it was about 10 minutes.”

Officials allowed KSL to see the inside the airport’s control center, which is where the first call that launched the emergency response was received.

“One of the concessionaries in the shop (Efinger) was at had called the control center, and had started making a report of a disturbance, ” said Treber Andersen, the director of operations.

Man found dead inside plane engine after breaching security at Salt Lake airport

Police told KSL TV that Efinger said something that made employees worried for his welfare. They said he went to a store after getting through security.

Andersen said once that call was made, employees looked at a camera that was tracking Efinger’s location. He said Efinger then walked to an emergency exit door about half a mile from that store.

“These exit doors are fire code requirements, and so they have panic bars and if you push the panic bar, a door is going to open, and there are about 60 of them,” Wyatt said. “It would be impossible to staff them all if there is a fire, an explosion, if there is an active shooter, people need to get out now.”

When Efinger walked through the door, it triggered an alarm.

“It was almost 10 o’clock at night so it was dark, so there was a certain point where he went into an airfield where it was more dark,” Andersen said.

Officials said by that point, they knew exactly who he was and where he was. Thermal cameras in the control center tracked him out onto the airfield. Officials said, at that time of day and in that area, there were no other humans on the tarmac. They said pilots followed protocol and called in sightings of Efinger.

They emphasized the fact that Efinger had gotten through security and had no knife, gun or anything dangerous with him.

“I think the safest place in Utah is probably the secure side of Salt Lake City International Airport because the level of security to identify who you are is really significant,” Wyatt said.

He said this is the airport’s first unauthorized security breach since it was renovated.

The airport’s executive director was asked if they’ve considered making any changes to security protocol.

“For us, the conclusion is it’s a really sad, tragic event that, from a security perspective, the entire airport family really pulled together, communicated effectively and addressed this in a very short order,” Wyatt said.

Efinger’s cause of death is still unknown. His family told KSL he had bipolar disorder.

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Airport says no security changes needed after man found dead in airplane engine last week