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FAA investigating how Lauren Scruggs walked into the spinning propeller of a plane

6 comments

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is looking into an accident in which a beautiful young woman suffered horrific injuries from walking into a propeller after exiting a plane on Saturday, reports TV Guide.

Lauren Scruggs, a 23-year-old model and founder/editor of the fashion site LOLO Magazine, had flown over Dallas, TX on Saturday evening to view Christmas lights. The pilot then landed the 2011 two-seater Aviat Husky A-1C-180 at a private airport in McKinney, north of Dallas.

According to Fox News, Scruggs exited the plane as it sat on the tarmac and another passenger was getting in. After disembarking, Scruggs somehow walked directly into the path of the spinning propeller.

Scruggs’ family believes she perhaps went to thank the pilot when the accident occurred.

Cheryl Scruggs, Lauren’s mother was inside the airport when the accident happened and stayed with her daughter until a care flight helicopter transported her to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

The propeller severed Scruggs’ left hand and damaged the left side of her upper body, including her left shoulder, head and face. She is recovering, but may lose sight in her left eye and the extent of her brain injury is unknown.

Scruggs’ parents spoke to ABC’s Good Morning America, saying their daughter has been awake and spoken a little after having several surgeries over the weekend.

“It sounds like this is a combination of a bad procedure by the pilot and the passenger not properly realizing her proximity,” aviation consultant John Nance told ABC. “One of the things I'd have to look at is why in the world a pilot permitted a passenger to board or deboard while a propeller was turning.”

6 Comments

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  1. Dick Manns says:
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    It’s unfortunate when anyone walks into the arc of a prop but, I have to believe the pilot instructed her on proper procedures and it was the excitement of the moment that caused her to forget where she was an the danger present.
    In the military I know of incidents where pro’s have walked into the prop and jet intakes. Few survived. I won’t blame the pilot on this one without knowing all the facts. I believe it was just a sad accident.

  2. Paul D says:
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    While this is certainly a tragedy, both for the young woman and her family as well as the pilot. Without knowing how experienced the pilot is it is difficult to assign blame. Granted it is standard procedure to secure the engines before allowing passengers to enter or exit the aircraft (with the exception of aircraft that use a “tunnel” to load and unload passengers.)

    It certainly sounds as though the pilot is at fault, but if the young woman exited the aircraft against the warnings of the pilot (if he did in fact warn her)it would absolve the pilot of a great deal of blame, (he could have restrained her but if he was in the process of securing the aircraft he could of been distracted by this process long enough for her to get out before he could do anything)

    It is difficult to imagine why anyone would walk towards the front of any aircraft while the engines are running, be it jet or propeller powered. Propellers have markings on them that give a visual indication that they are in motion by lines painted on the blades and jet engines by the sound and powerful air thrust from the rear of the engine.

    My thoughts are with the young woman, the pilot and the families of both of them. It is agreeably a tragic event, but on the positive side she is still alive, I can’t imagine the odds of someone surviving after walking into a spinning propeller, someone was certainly watching over her.

  3. jonny rocket says:
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    sad. i used to see employees almost walk into the arc when i worked at stapleton in denver. they were beechcraft 1900’s. you got earplugs in, noise everywhere, in a hurry…

  4. Wayne K. says:
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    Being a retired Navy pilot of propeller aircraft and holding a commercial license for multi-engine aircraft, I have to say this is entirely the pilot’s fault. No question. You do not board and deboard passengers with props turning. IF (and it’s rare) you need to, you shut down the engines on the side of the aircraft passengers will enter or exit and ensure it’s a straight line they will follow to their destination and NOT have to walk around the aircraft. She was struck on her left side. Pilot sits in the left seat which says she exited out the RIGHT side of the aircraft and walked around the FRONT of the aircraft with no supervision. Entirely outside procedures for propeller aircraft.

    As for Dick’s comments about professionals having a prop strike. Yes it does happen and they are trained how to operate around aircraft. They are NOT passengers and the pilot is ultimately responsible for the safety of his/her passengers. Tragic, but the pilot cannot dodge the fault for this.

  5. Anon says:
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    Wayne K, your years of experience in multi-engine planes don’t apply here. The Aviat Husky is a single-engine, front to back two seater. Although it was probably not smart to leave the engine running while switching passengers, all available information points to a careless passenger more than a careless pilot. For the passenger to walk into the front of the propeller (as described in other reports), she would have had to exit and walk away from the airplane safely (likely in a straight line, as you described) and then return to the aircraft afterwards. Likely, the pilot briefed the passenger on how to properly exit the aircraft and get clear of danger, but all instructions were forgotten when she returned to the aircraft. As a pilot, you are responsible for your passengers, but a passenger that safely exits the airplane and the procedes to walk directly toward the front of a running aircraft at night sounds like a whole different story.

  6. Jim Schmitt says:
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    As a veteran Air Force Crew Chief, I can tell you that we had safety procedures on the flight line for C-130 aircraft that PROHIBITED us from walking through the prop arc at ANY time. Even if the props were “T’d” and the engines were plugged, we were not allowed to walk through the prop arc. We had to walk all the way out the the wing tip and make the turn to position ourselves behind or under the wing. This was done to prevent us from developing the bad habit of walking through the prop arc, and thus doing it while engines were running and it becoming a fatal mistake.