The crew of this flight did the sweetest thing for the grandmother of one of the Orlando shooting victims
In the days since the tragic terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, we’ve seen some beautiful instances of compassion and unity which have helped us remain hopeful in the wake of such a horrible event. One such story is what happened aboard a JetBlue flight bound for Orlando.
Yesterday, Kelly David Karas, a flight attendant with JetBlue, was part of a crew on a flight that was carrying the grandmother of Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo (known as Omar to his friends and family), one of the victims of the Orlando shooting. Omar’s distraught grandmother was headed to be with family in the aftermath of the tragedy. Kelly and her fellow flight attendant, Melinda, wanted to do something special for Omar’s grandmother to show their support during such a difficult time. So they passed a paper around the plane for the passengers to sign with a note of condolence.
But once the paper began circulating, something amazing happened. The passengers wrote pages and pages for Omar’s grandmother, and when the flight was over, every single person aboard the plane stopped to talk to her personally and tell her how sorry they were about her grandson.
Kelly was so moved by the incident that she took to Facebook to share what happened aboard the flight, posting a photo of Omar, along with the whole story.
“Below is a picture of Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo. Omar, as his friends and family called him, was a Latino man gunned down at an LGBTQ bar in Orlando last weekend. He was 20-years-old.
Today my dear friend Melinda and I had the sad privilege of attending to his grandmother on our flight as she made her journey to Orlando to join her family during this unspeakable time.
Knowing she was making this hard journey alone, JetBlue employees made sure to be at her side every step of the way. Melinda stood quietly by her wheelchair while we waited until it was time to board. Kellie, the gate agent, boarded with her and helped get her settled. Melinda and I gave her a blanket, a pillow, a box of tissues and water so she could be as comfortable as possible. She was understandably distraught, but met us with kindness and gentleness. And gratitude.
But here’s where our flight got truly inspiring. I had the idea to pass around a piece of paper to everyone on board and invite them to sign it for this grieving grandmother. I talked it over with Melinda and she started the process from the back of the plane. As we took beverage orders, we whispered a heads up about the plan as we went.
Halfway through, Melinda called me, “Kel, I think you should start another paper from the front. Folks are writing PARAGRAPHS.” So I did. Then we started one in the middle. Lastly, running out of time on our hour and fifteen minute flight, we handed out pieces of paper to everyone still waiting.
When we gathered them together to present them to her, we didn’t have just a sheet of paper covered in names, which is what I had envisioned. Instead, we had page after page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support. There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears.
When we landed, I made an announcement that the company had emailed to us earlier in the morning to use as an optional addition to our normal landing announcement, which states “JetBlue stands with Orlando.” Then with her permission and at the request of a couple of passengers, we offered a moment of silence in Omar’s memory.
As we deplaned, EVERY SINGLE PERSON STOPPED TO OFFER HER THEIR CONDOLENCES. Some just said they were sorry, some touched her hand, some hugged her, some cried with her. But every single person stopped to speak to her, and not a single person was impatient at the slower deplaning process.
I am moved to tears yet again as I struggle to put our experience into words. In spite of a few hateful, broken human beings in this world who can all too easily legally get their hands on mass assault weapons – people ARE kind. People DO care. And through our customers’ humanity today, and through the generosity of this wonderful company I am so grateful to work for, I am hopeful that someday soon we can rally together to make the world a safer place for all.
I will never forget today. #Orlandoproud”
We’d like to join JetBlue in offering our sincere condolences to Omar’s loved ones. And we want to thank Kelly, the rest of the crew and every person aboard that JetBlue flight. The entire country is devastated by what happened in Orlando, but stories like this give us hope.