In a simple gesture of extraordinary kindness, one airline pilot delayed his plane by 12 minutes to ensure that one passenger would be able to say a final goodbye to his murdered grandson.
Mark Dickinson, the grandfather of a two-year-old who had allegedly been murdered by his daughter's live-in boyfriend, was rushing to be at his grandson's bedside before doctors turned off the young boy's life support machines. He was going to miss his connecting flight from Tucson to Denver until a compassionate Southwest Airlines pilot stepped in to help.
Dickinson set off from Los Angeles where he had been visiting on business and was trying to connect in Tucson for a flight to Colorado where his 26-year-old daughter lived with his grandson.
"I was panicking because I was running late and I didn't think I was going to make the flight," Dickinson said. "That's all I was thinking about, 'I'm going to miss the flight.' It was sad and I felt anxious because I didn't know what would happen if I missed the flight."
Although he had arrived at LAX in plenty of time for his flight, a long line at check-in and security left Dickinson struggling to board his flight on schedule. According to the Daily Mail, airport employees would not allow the grandfather to cut into the security line, even though he tried to explain his circumstances. "They were of the opinion that it didn't matter what my situation was; I needed to go like everybody else," he told the Daily Mail.
Despite his best efforts, Dickinson arrived at his departure gate in his stockinged feet 12 minutes late. To his surprise, however, the Southwest airlines pilot was waiting for him.
"Are you Mark?" the pilot reportedly asked. "We held the plane for you and we're so sorry about the loss of your grandson."
Dickinson's wife, Nancy, wrote about his experience at the travel blog Elliot.org:
The pilot held the plane that was supposed to take off at 11:50 until 12:02 when my husband got there.
As my husband walked down the Jetway with the pilot, he said, “I can’t thank you enough for this.”
The pilot responded with, “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.”
My husband was able to take his first deep breath of the day.
Because of the exceptional kindness of the unnamed pilot, Dickinson was able to be at his bereaving daughter's side when his grandson's life support was pulled later that night.
Additionally, turning one tragedy into hope for others, the young boy's organs were due to be donated to as many as 25 other people who desperately needed them.