NTSB Report: Pilot Tried to Warn Model Injured by Propeller

Pilot reached out arm to guide Lauren Scruggs away right before accident, preliminary report says

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    A pilot warned model Lauren Scruggs to stay away from a moving airplane propeller right before she was seriously injured last month, according to a preliminary federal report released Monday.

    The pilot, previously identified as Curt Richmond of Frisco, has not spoken publicly about the Dec. 3 accident at Aero Country Airport in McKinney.

    Report: Pilot Tried to Warn Victim Before Propeller Accident

    [DFW] Report: Pilot Tried to Warn Victim Before Propeller Accident
    Pilot told investigators he tried to warn Lauren Scruggs before she was seriously injured by a moving plane propeller. (Published Monday, Jan. 16, 2012)

    But a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Administration released Monday revealed he told investigators he had just returned Scruggs from a 20-minute tour to see Christmas lights, parked the plane and left the engine running because he was preparing to pick up another passenger.

    Scruggs walked out the door on the right side, the report said.

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    [DFW] Total Strangers Raise Money for Lauren Scruggs
    A Plano restaurant and bar hosted a fundraiser Tuesday for an injured fashion blogger. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011)

    The pilot said he noticed Scruggs was heading toward the front of the plane, leaned out of his seat and "placed his right hand and arm in front of her to divert her away from the front of the airplane and the propeller."

    According to the report, Richmond said he kept his arm extended and "told the passenger that she should walk behind the airplane."

    Rolling Up Their Sleeves for Lauren Scruggs

    [DFW] Rolling Up Their Sleeves for Lauren Scruggs
    North Texans gave blood, bought hats and made donations in honor of the model/fashion blogger injured in a freak accident. (Published Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011)

    It's unclear if Scruggs heard the warning with the sound of the engine still running.

    Richmond said when Scruggs appeared to be walking the correct direction, he dropped his arm and returned to his "normal seat position" -- ready for the next passenger to get on board.

    "The pilot then heard someone yell, 'STOP, STOP,' and he immediately shut down the engine and saw the passenger lying in front of the plane," the report said.

    Scruggs, 23, a model and fashion blogger, lost her left hand and left eye in the accident and is still recuperating from her injuries. She has been treated at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

    Speaking after the accident, Scruggs parents said they didn't blame the pilot.

    But some experts said her injuries are ultimately the pilot's responsibility.

    "The bottom line is, he should have shut the engine down," said air safety investigator Denny Kelly. "The bottom line is, he made a mistake."

    Kelly said shutting the engine off in such cases is good practice but acknowledged no rules require it.

    NBCDFW's Shane Allen contributed to this report.