Alabama Mom of 3 Identified as Airline Worker Who Was Sucked Into Plane Engine on New Year’s Eve
Courtney Edwards, 34, has been identified as the ground handling agent who was killed in the accident.
The airline worker who was killed in an accident on New Year’s Eve after being sucked into an airplane engine at Alabama's Montgomery Regional Airport has been identified as a mother of three, according to reports.
Courtney Edwards, 34, has been identified as the ground handling agent who was killed in the accident. She had been working for Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board released Monday, according to the New York Post.
The report says that Edwards was pulled into an Embraer E175 jet engine and killed when she had walked too close to the running engine despite warnings, according to the Montgomery Advisor.
American Eagle flight ENY3408 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, to Montgomery, which landed on the afternoon of December 31, according to the report, obtained by The Montgomery Advisor.
Upon arrival at the gate, the captain stopped the aircraft, set the parking brake and gave the hand signal to connect the plane to ground power. As he was shutting down one of the engines, he got an alert that the forward cargo door was open. The first officer opened his cockpit window to let a worker know that the engines were still operating, according to the report, obtained by The Montgomery Advisor.
"Immediately thereafter, he saw a warning light illuminate and the airplane shook violently followed by the immediate automatic shutdown of the number 1 engine," according to the report. "Unsure of what had occurred, he extinguished the emergency lights and shut off both batteries before leaving the flight deck to investigate."
The report says that Edwards "was subsequently pulled off her feet and into the operating engine.”
The NTSB said the ground crew held a safety meeting 10 minutes before the plane landed, followed by a second safety “huddle” held immediately before the aircraft 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 the New York Post.
The report also said that a co-worker yelled and waved Edwards off and she began to move away from the plane, but then he heard a “bang,” and the engine shut down, the New York Post reported.
There were 59 passengers and four crew members on board the plane, none of whom were injured, according to the Montgomery Advisor.
Inside Edition Digital has reached out to Piedmont Airlines for comment on this story and has not heard back.
Richard Honeycutt, vice president of Communication Workers of America District 3, issued a statement about Edwards earlier this month on his organization’s website.
"The news of this terrible tragedy was heartbreaking. Courtney was a valued member of her team and our union. She was away from her family working on New Year's Eve making sure passengers got to where they needed to be for the holidays. She represents the very best of our CWA airport members, who constantly make sacrifices to serve the flying public.
"Her memory will live on in the hearts and minds of her fellow CWA members and those closest to her. Our staff and local leaders are on the ground coordinating with the relevant agencies as the investigation continues. We are doing as much as we can to provide support for her family and loved ones during this most tragic time,” he wrote.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Edwards’ children and her family to help pay for funeral expenses by Donielle Prophete, the president of the CWA (Communication Workers of America) Local 3645, which represents Piedmont Airlines' ground handling agents from 24 stations including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
"Please know that this tragedy has and will affect her mother, family, friends, and kids for years to come," Prophete wrote.
Thus far, the GoFundMe campaign has raised over $104,000 of their initial $25,000 goal.
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