Here’s an update on yesterday’s Southwest story — and how you can help

The response to yesterday’s story about how a Southwest Airlines pilot held the plane for the grandfather of a murder victim has been overwhelming. Here’s an update.

A lot of readers have asked how they can help. Nancy, the toddler’s step-grandmother, has asked that donations to be made to the Aurora, Colo., location of the Ronald McDonald House, which has arranged for her husband and step-daughter to stay in a local hotel at no charge. Donations should be made in the name of Caden Rodgers.

Here are a few details about the case. The boy, Caden Rodgers, was reportedly body-slammed by his mother’s live-in boyfriend, last week. He died of his injuries on Thursday, according to reports. Here are a few more specifics on this horrific case. I can’t bring myself to write more.

Nancy also had a few comments after reading some of the feedback on the original post.

Yes, Mark works for Northrop Grumman. However, as all his flying is done under a government contract he is required to purchase the lowest fare possible per a DOD directive. That is usually SWA when it’s factored in there’s no checked baggage fee.

2. While Mark DOES work for Northrop Grumman, all travel purchases are made via American Express Travel. There’s nothing on his account or ticket that says, “Hey, this guy works for Northrop Grumman!”

3. Mark is a minion at NGC. His bosses might fly business class, but he doesn’t, much to his chagrin.

I’m grateful to the readers of this site for their compassionate response to this case, and to Southwest Airlines and its principled pilot for holding the plane.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at

  • I only just saw this comment.  No, he didn’t fly to Denver on our taxpayers dollars.  He completed his business travel in Tucson, as he’s required to do.  We then purchased a ticket on SWA to fly from Tucson to Denver.  How nice of you, though, to be so cynical.

    Just so you know, had he flown directly from LAX to DEN as others suggested he do, it would have cost an exorbitant amount and THAT would have raised eyebrows.

  • This was actually mis-reported by ABC and other news outlets picked it up.  I didn’t call the airline, I was too busy staying in touch with our step-daughter.  Someone at the airport started the ball rolling and we have no clue whom it might be.  My husband was guessing, and told SWA this, that it was probably the baggage handler outside on the sidewalk where my husband checked his suitcase.

    The only contact I had with the airline was when I purchased my husband’s ticket to fly from TUS to DEN once he got there. That was done at about 7:30 AM.

  • Yes they did.  He is currently sitting in the Arapahoe County Jail in Centennial, CO, and has been since this happened.  He was only just recently given a half-million dollar bond.

  • Lisa, if you ever see this note, would you please thank the pilot for us again and again?  When we had lunch with him, he was more than a little overwhelmed by it all.  I’m sure he considered what he did for my husband to be “just his job” but it changed our lives in a tangible way.

    Such a simple act of kindness…  It still brings me to tears thinking about it and what a difference it made in so many lives.

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