Child killed in Alabama airport after sign falls on family

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport

Photo: Flickr – jimmywayne

Associated Press is reporting that a sign in the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport fell on a family with four children, killing 10-year-old Luke Bresette.

The family was returning to Overland Park, Kansas after beachfront vacation, when they had a layover in Birmingham, Alabama to catch a connecting flight.

Heather Bresette, the boy’s mother, is listed in critical condition at UAB Hospital. Bresette along with her four children were trapped when the sign came crashing down on them. The Ryan Bresette was not injured in the accident.

UPDATE (March 24): The mother broke both ankles and has a crushed pelvis. She endured a number of surgeries over the weekend, and remains in intensive care, this according to University Hospital spokeswoman, Nicole Wyatt.

The family’s priest, Rev. Don Farnan, said Heather, “does not know that her baby is dead.”

Luke’s 5-year-old brother, Tyler, suffered a concussion and his 8-year-old brother, Sam, broke his leg and nose. Tyler was released on Sunday March 24.

The Bresettes, a family of seven, took a weeklong vacation to Destin, Fla., and were about to fly home to Overland Park, Kan., when the arrival-departure sign fell.

The tragic accident happened in a newly renovated area and is the first phase of a $206 million project.

Luke Bresette

Luke Bresette
Photo: Facebook

Battalion Chief Donald Jones says he estimates the weight of the sign to have been between 300 and 400 pounds.

Jones believes the ages of the other children to be between 6 and 10 years old. According to witnesses at the scene the mother received serious injuries to her legs.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell issued a statement:

“I have offered our full support to the Airport Authority as they investigate what has occurred this afternoon. I have asked our public safety staff to assist this family in their time of need in any way possible as they grapple with what has happened.”

According  46-year-old Albert Osorio said there was a loud crash followed by screams. He went on to say the sign looked to have been mounted with nothing by liquid nails.

Witnesses said it took six people to lift the sign off the family.


Heather Bresette
Photo: Facebook

Chairwoman Gaynell Hendricks said, “President and CEO Al Denson and the staff are continuing to work with officials to investigate. This includes discussions with contractors, subcontractors that are responsible for the modernization of the airport.”

Ryan posted on his Facebook page today, “Words cannot describe the pain we feel. Thank you all for the love and support. Keep praying and praying and praying. For anyone attending STM mass this morning, please wear your favorite sports team shirt. Luke loved sports! I miss and love Luke so very much. I love you Luke!!!”

Ryan received an outpouring of support with posts offering condolences and a lending hand like Kathryn Donnelly Schmitt, who posted “Ryan, I live an hour from Birmingham and I am at your disposal if you need anything – an extra pair of hands, help with your other 2 children – anything at all. I’m sure your family is on the way, but in the meantime please don’t hesitate to message me. Praying for you and your entire family.” Protection Status



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