LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A woman in a wheelchair is suing American Airlines claiming she was forced to crawl up stairs without help to get onto a plane bound for Los Angeles International Airport.

Theresa Purcell was booked on an American Eagle commuter flight from San Diego to LAX and claims the airline refused to bring out a portable ramp so she could board the flight.

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Purcell claims ground crews told her it would delay the plane’s departure.

Instead, she alleges she was forced to crawl up a narrow staircase that is attached to the plane and had to do so without any help.

Purcell, who has a rare nerve disease and has been in a wheelchair for years, also claims she crawled down the aisle of the plane to her seat.

“I was humiliated. I mean it was embarrassing to have like 50-something people watch you crawl into a plane,” she said. “There was a ramp right next to the plane and she’s all like, ‘Oh, it’s too late.’ ”

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“So I’m like, ‘OK, so we can’t just, you know, the ramp is right there? Can’t you guys just push it right here so I can get on?’ ” Purcell said. “She’s like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ ”

“All these people who have to watch me embarrass myself again and I got to be there hoping like, ‘Please, I hope I never see these people again,’ ” Purcell added.

CBS2 reached out to American Airlines Tuesday evening, which issued the following statement:

“We take these matters very seriously and began investigating Ms. Purcell’s claims … when they were first brought to our attention. We will evaluate the lawsuit as soon as we receive it.”

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The airline would neither confirm nor deny Purcell’s claims that she had to crawl onto a plane when asked by the news station. They said an investigation continues.