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Baby held in locked room at airport dies

Advertiser Staff

A 14-day-old infant traveling here for heart surgery died at Honolulu International Airport on Friday after he, his mother and a nurse were detained by immigration officials in a locked room, a lawyer for the boy's family said.

The Honolulu medical examiner's office yesterday identified the infant as Michael Futi of Tafuna, American Samoa's largest village, which is located on the east coast of Tutuila Island. Autopsy findings have been deferred.

According to police, the child died at 5:50 a.m. It is unknown why immigration officials detained the mother, the nurse and the child.

Scott Ishikawa, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the child went into respiratory failure while in the customs office, which is located near the baggage claims area of the overseas terminal. Airport paramedics were called about 6:10 a.m., he said.

The group arrived on a Hawaiian Airlines flight that landed at 5:30 a.m.

"We were later told the baby was coming here for heart surgery," Ishikawa said.

Attorney Rick Fried said the child had come to Hawai'i from American Samoa for heart surgery.

The boy's family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit, Fried said.