Airport worker who died after being pulled into plane engine honored as a loving mother

Friends of Courtney Edwards have raised more than $100,000 to help her three kids.

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The Alabama airline worker who died last month after being sucked into a jet engine was warned repeatedly about the dangers of getting too close to a grounded aircraft while the blades are spinning, People reports. 

Courtney Edwards and several ground crew colleagues at Montgomery Regional Airport had undergone two “safety huddle” briefings moments before she died in the freak accident. Now her friends are trying to raise money for the children she leaves behind.

Edwards and the ground crew were warned twice to stay back about 10 minutes before the airplane at the center of the tragedy arrived at the gate on Dec. 31, The Guardian reports. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a report released Monday that pilots of the American Eagle jet decided to leave the plane running at the gate for a brief cool-down period because of technical issues with the auxiliary power unit on board.

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A ground handling agent for Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, died after she was sucked in by the engine of an American Eagle jet. The engine was running at the time of the accident. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In the report, the NTSB said the plane’s engines were still running when surveillance footage captured Edwards walking toward the plane’s rear with an orange safety cone. A short while after she disappears from view. Edwards was killed after being sucked into the engine.

Richard Honeycutt, vice president of Communication Workers of America District 3, called her “heartbreaking” death a “terrible tragedy,” in a statement on the organization’s website. People reports that members of the union have launched a GoFundMe page to raise $25,000 for Edwards’ three children. At press time, more than $100,000 has been raised.

“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,” the campaign states. “Please know that this tragedy has and will affect her mother, family, friends, and kids for years to come.”

Honeycutt noted that the union and others are cooperating with the investigators looking into the incident. “Our staff and local leaders are on the ground coordinating with the relevant agencies as the investigation continues,” he said.” We are doing as much as we can to provide support for her family and loved ones during this most tragic time.”

Edwards “will live on in the hearts and minds of her fellow CWA members and those closest to her,” Honeycutt said, referring to her as “a valued member of her team and our union.”

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