Speaking with ABC News on the two-year anniversary of his famously being violently dragged from an overbooked United Airlines flight, physician David Dao says the incident left him with lingering health problems. After viewing the video of his brutal treatment at the hands of police for the first time, the doctor said the images left him in tears.
Doctor David Dao’s treatment at the hands of Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) police officers in April of 2017 made front page headlines and was the lead story on nearly every nightly news broadcast for weeks. The spotlight is no longer on the now-famous senior citizen who refused to give up his seat on a United Airlines flight at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in order to make room for off duty employees (and paid for his defiance with a concussion, a broken nose and two lost teeth), but Dao admits it has been difficult to move on from the traumatic events that occurred two years ago.
In his first interview after remaining largely silent following his ordeal, the Kentucky physician told ABC News that he is still suffering health issues as a result of his brutal treatment. Once an avid marathon runner, Dao says he now has been left with balance issues, insomnia and difficulty concentrating. According to the M.D., his rehabilitation included months of relearning how to walk and he was even placed on suicide watch while recovering at the hospital.
Dao told ABC News’ Julia Jacobo that he has almost no recollection of the events that occurred on United Flight 3411 after being asked to give up his seat on the plane. He recalls only waking up in the hospital battered, bloody and in pain. After seeing footage of his mistreatment on the plane for the first time months later, Dao confessed that it was an emotional moment. “I just cried,” he recalled.
Dao reached an undisclosed settlement with United Airlines just weeks after the incident. The two officers responsible for his brutal removal from the plane were fired (one of those officers later filed a lawsuit of his own against United Airlines). Although United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz initially blamed Dao for the shameful episode, calling the doctor “belligerent,” he soon reversed course in the face of public backlash and promised to change the way the company treats its passengers.
“It’s one of the dark moments,” Munoz later said in public comments about the embarrassing affair. “Usually the question is, ‘Are you glad that’s getting behind you?’ and I always say, ‘No, I’m happy to be reminded of it every day,’ and so is our company, because it’s important to know how quickly things can go sideways on us…The rigor and discipline around safety and security and operations doesn’t necessarily apply to the comfort and the quality and the emotional connection as a human on the customer service. So, with our rules and procedures, you can’t put always rules and procedures on how you treat another human.”
Dao indicated that he doesn’t regret his decision to stand his ground, because he believes that the end result was that airline and airport officials reevaluated how they interact with the public. “Everything happens with a reason,” he said.
[Image Source: Screenshot from video]