SINT MAARTEN — A tourist from New Zealand visiting the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten was killed when she was thrown by the wake of a jet engine at a spot near the airport where planes take off and land just a few feet away from the beach.
The 57-year-old woman was standing by a fence at the base of the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport that has become a popular tourist attraction when she thrown by the force of the engine blast and struck her head on the pavement, leaving her seriously injured, police said.
She was rushed to the hospital, but “unfortunately the victim died shortly after as a result of the injuries she sustained,” the Sint Maarten police force said in a statement.
The area next to the runway is a popular spot for thrill seekers who come to watch low-flying planes cross over the narrow beach to land, or to be blown into the water from the engine blast of planes taking off. Dozens of videos of people pressing their luck as planes pass by litter YouTube.
The woman who was killed was standing with several others clinging to a fence to watch a plane take off for Trinidad. In 2012, a woman was seriously hurt when she was thrown and struck her head on a low concrete wall.
Police acknowledge that the spot has “become well known worldwide as a major tourist attraction,” but warned that it is “extremely dangerous” to stand there. Signs posted along the beach warn tourists to steer clear and police say they regularly patrol the area.
“The local authorities are urging the general public and mainly visitors to the island to adhere to the warning signs that are placed at that location to avoid serious injuries which can ultimately lead to the loss of life,” the police statement said.