A local woman says she feels betrayed by an airline that she trusted to help take care of her brother, a disabled Camp Pendleton Marine who served in Vietnam.
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"I felt that he had been treated very disrespectfully," said Joie Peringer of Oceanside as she fought back tears. "I mean, he's a human being."
Joie's emotions are still raw since she discovered a Southwest Airlines attendant abandoned her special-needs brother at Lindbergh Field last Thursday.
"I was shocked, surprised, but mostly scared for him," she said.
That is because her brother George Peringer has trouble walking, speaking, moving his left arm and recalling things since a brain tumor and subsequent surgery left him with both physical and mental challenges.
George has flown on Southwest from Phoenix to visit his sister in San Diego several times with no problems and always with assistance.
"However, this time we were caught in traffic and we were late getting there," she said.
About 15 minutes later, she found him alone outside baggage claim on the curb where people with special needs in wheelchairs are often seen but are not alone.
"I certainly don't want this to happen to anyone else," she said.
In fact, George's wallet is now missing.
"You are contracting with that airline to take care of this person that you treasure," said Joie.
She said she does not expect attendants to stay with people for an unreasonable amount of time.
"The attendant doesn't necessarily have to remain there with them but have a safe designated location," she said.
Joie said she now does not feel safe letting her brother fly.
"Some policy needs to be put in place so that something horrible doesn't happen in the future," she said.
Southwest Airlines said the company uses a contractor to handle passengers who need special assistance at the airport.
Southwest released a statement to 10News on Monday, which read in part: "We are looking into this situation and are following up with the appropriate personnel to make sure our policies and procedures are understood and being followed appropriately."
The company also said it deeply regrets the family's disappointment.
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