Crews were instructed to steer clear of the engines until they had been informed that the engines were no longer running and the yellow warning light had been turned off. After the Envoy Air Embraer 170 plane from Dallas landed and the right engine was in the process of powering down, the plane's first officer opened his window and reiterated to crew members that the engines were still running. By that time, one crew member had noticed that Edwards had nearly been knocked over by the plane's exhaust and issued yet another warning for Edwards to give the engines a wide berth.
Sadly, Edwards misunderstood, forgot, or disregarded the repeated instructions, because she then stepped in front of the left engine and was "pulled off her feet and into the operating engine," the latest NTSB report stated, echoing an earlier NTSB report that claimed that the worker had been "ingested into the engine." The latest report stopped short of giving a probable cause of the incident, pending further investigation.
Based on witness statements and surveillance footage — which has not been made public — Edwards' death and the moments immediately following it were horrifying. The co-pilot stated that the "airplane shook violently" before shutting down with a "bang." There were 63 passengers aboard the plane, plus four crew members. The number of ground personnel present during the incident is not known.
The Communication Workers of America Local 3645, of which Edwards was a member, issued a statement through a GoFundMe account it had established on her behalf. "Courtney was a Ground Handling agent for Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, a loving mother of 3 kids and a wonderful daughter to her beloved mother, Natalie English of Montgomery, Alabama," the statement read in part. "Please know that this tragedy has and will affect her mother, family, friends and kids for years to come." The account has already exceeded its $100,000 goal.
Richard Honeycutt, vice president of CWA District 3 and chair of CWA's Passenger Service Airline Council, made an additional statement:
"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," the statement said.
"Her memory will live on in the hearts and minds of her fellow CWA members and those closest to her," Honeycutt added. "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."
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