An unidentified man was struck and killed by a landing Southwest flight at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport late Thursday. The Southwest crew reported they saw someone on the runway as they touched down at 8:12 p.m. after a short hop from Dallas. Equipment was dispatched and found the dead man on Runway 17R. The 737-700 took significant damage to the left engine nacelle and Southwest said the crew tried to miss him. “The Southwest aircraft maneuvered to avoid an individual who appeared on runway 17R shortly after touchdown. The aircraft quickly came to a safe stop, and the Pilots reported the event to local air traffic controllers,” the statement said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene and it was later confirmed that the man did not have authorized access to the runways and ramp areas.
The airport characterized the incident as a “pedestrian fatality” and the airport confirmed that the man jumped a fence to get to the runway. “We are treating it as a security breach,” airport spokesman Bryce Dubee said. “This is the first time we’ve had a runway incursion like this. We have had the occasional security breach, but no one has ever gotten onto an active runway at the airport.” The TSA did a tour of the airport perimeter with airport security to try and spot weak spots.