When A Blind And Deaf Airline Passenger Couldn't Communicate, A Teen Came To The Rescue

"I don’t know when I’ve ever seen so many people rally to take care of another human being."

While aboard an Alaska Airlines flight traveling from Boston, Mass. to Portland, Ore., passenger Lynette Scribner witnessed an unexpectedly heartwarming interaction that quickly transformed into a viral Facebook post

According to Scribner, when a man named Tim Cook was assigned the middle seat in her row, the man on the aisle voluntarily switched seats with Cook in an effort to make his trip more comfortable. You see, Cook's both blind and deaf. Thus, while the flight attendants were desperately trying to communicate with the passenger, the barrier was too great for them to overcome on their own.

"The flight attendants sincerely wanted to assist him, but had no way to communicate," Scribner wrote on Facebook. "I watched as they didn't flinch when he reached out to touch their faces and arms. They took his hand and tried so hard to communicate with him, to no avail. He had some verbal ability, but clearly could not understand them."

"The man who had given up his seat did his best to assist Tim with things like opening coffee creamer and putting it in his coffee. When Tim made the attempt to stand up and feel his way to the restroom, his seat mate immediately was up to help him. The flight attendants were talking among themselves and someone suggested paging to see if anyone on board knew sign language," Scribner added.

That's when Clara Daly came into the picture.


"Alaska flight attendants, who were talking about the situation in the back galley, proactively made an announcement to see if any guests onboard knew American Sign Language (ASL) to help establish a better means of communication with Cook," Alaska Airlines wrote on the company blog. "One of them jumped on the PA and asked if anyone who knew sign language, would ring their flight attendant call button, not knowing that a sweet teen girl, who was more than willing to help, would answer the call."

Scribner's post noted that Daly had been studying ASL for the last year because her dyslexia made it difficult for her to learn other written languages. Luckily, Daly's knowledge was enough to keep her and Cook conversing for the remainder of the flight, as Cook simply wanted someone to talk to onboard.

"When he asked her if she was pretty, she blushed and laughed as the seat mate, who had learned a few signs, communicated an enthusiastic yes to Tim," Scribner wrote. "I don't know when I've ever seen so many people rally to take care of another human being. All of us in the immediate rows were laughing and smiling and enjoying his obvious delight in having someone to talk to."

"Clara was amazing," an Alaska flight attendant told the company blog. "You could tell Tim was very excited to have someone he could speak to and she was such an angel."

While Daly and her mother, Jane, were traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, their initial direct flight was cancelled and they were redirected to this Alaska Airlines flight despite the layover in Portland. However, in the end, Daly was positive that this was exact where they were meant to be.

As Jane Daly said, "After the flight, Clara told me she thought it was meant to be that our original flight was canceled and we were placed on this flight, so she could be there to help Tim." 

In this case, what they say really rings true -- everything does happen for a reason.

Cover image via Have A Nice Day Photo / Shutterstock

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