CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Family and lawyers are fighting for justice after an airport baggage handler died on the job. Kendrick Hudson died on Aug. 11, 2019 when he fell off his luggage tug and it landed on him.
He worked for Piedmont Airlines, a regional airline of American Airlines.
Months later, they say nothing has been done to improve working conditions, prompting the family to file a lawsuit against American Airlines and the city of Charlotte. They spoke out at the airport Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re here to declare justice for Kendrick Hudson because his life mattered,” attorney Ben Crump said.
Hudson was just 24 years old when his life was cut short.
“Working an extra shift so he can have money to travel for his birthday,” his mother Erika Vernon said. “Which he never did get a chance to do.”
He was driving a luggage tug outside Terminal E, which they say employees refer to as “Death Valley.”
“One of the tugs driving ahead of Kendrick had dropped a piece of luggage,” attorney Alex Hilliard said. “He didn’t see it until it was too late and he swerved to try and miss it. Unfortunately for Kendrick he swerved too late.”
Union workers say they complained to the airport for months about the lack of lighting.
In a statement, a spokesperson for American Airlines said:
“Our condolences are with the family of Mr. Hudson. Safety is our number one priority and the first consideration in every decision we make and we are committed to providing a safe work environment for all of our team members. The OSHA investigation into the accident is not yet complete, and no cause has been determined.”
“It’s frightening for all agents to be working in those dark conditions,” Union rep, Donielle Prophete, Vice President of CWA Local 3645, said.
She wants to know why even after his death, nothing has changed.
To Hudson’s family, he was more than just a hard worker.
“I lost more than just a son, he was my legs," his father Leon Hudson, who is in a wheelchair, said. “He was all the things that I needed done that I couldn’t do for myself.”
Airport officials are conducting a lighting analysis, but they don’t think that’s enough.
“They could have fixed the problem by spending the money they paid the experts and consultants to put more lights out,” Hilliard said.
His mother wants action now, before it happens to someone else.
“This feeling is something," Vernon said. "I never intended to bury my son.”
Hudson’s mother also questions how the airport can spend millions of dollars on renovations, but not add lighting to keep their workers safe.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Charlotte Douglas International Airport said:
“At CLT, the Aviation Department and our partners use layers of safety measures and policies to create a safe working environment.The aircraft ramp is a 24/7 worksite with a great deal of activity that requires all employees to adhere to multiple layers of safety. The Aviation Department provides safety layers such as facility lighting, ramp markings, and we establish and enforce ramp safety standards. We rely on our partners and individuals using the ramp to maintain situational awareness, adhere to speed limits, utilize vehicle headlights and taillights, wear seatbelts, promptly remove foreign object debris and take various other precautions.Before Mr. Hudson’s tragic accident, the Aviation Department hired a consultant to conduct a lighting study. After Mr. Hudson’s death, Piedmont Airlines employees brought forward additional concerns and the Aviation Department expanded the scope of the study. In late 2019, the consultant completed work on all study areas and we are working to implement them now.At this time, there are no findings of the cause of the accident. We anticipate the Department of Labor will release the OSHA findings tomorrow (January 29th). Based on the findings, we will implement any recommendations for the Aviation Department. Our thoughts continue to be with the Hudson family.”