A mother of three who worked at Alabama’s Montgomery Regional Airport was sucked into a plane engine and gorily killed while working her shift.
Deputies say Courtney Edwards, 34, was forcibly pulled into the engine so severely that it caused the entire aircraft to shake. She was killed on the scene.
Federal investigators were called to examine the incident and found that the employee was repeatedly cautioned to keep her distance. She had been working for Piedmont Airlines (a subsidiary of American Airlines) as a ground handling agent, according to documents from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Prior to her death, reports say Edwards was warned to keep her distance after she was knocked over by exhaust from a jet that was running. But the documents revealed that Edwards “pulled off her feet and into the operating engine,” adding that the “airplane shook violently followed by the immediate automatic shutdown.”
The flight, operated by Envoy Air, an affiliate of American Airlines, was from Dallas and had 59 passengers and four crew members on board.
An auxiliary power unit designed to power the plane without use of the engines was not operating, according to NTSB, so pilots chose to leave both engines running for two minutes so that the engine could cool down.
The transportation board said that “the ground crew held a safety meeting 10 minutes before the flight’s arrival, followed by a second safety huddle held immediately before the Embraer jet reached the gate, to reiterate that the engines would remain running and the plane shouldn’t be approached until the engines were shut down and the pilots turned off the beacon light,” according to a report from the New York Post.
Footage of the incident shows Edwards walking along the plane’s wing and in front of the engine while it was still running.
Moments later, a co-worker yelled and waved at Edwards to warn her to move back, but before he knew it, he heard a “bang” and the engine shut down, according to a preliminary report.
Edwards is survived by her mother and three children. Her GoFundMe page has raised more than $109,000 at the time of this writing.