Lauren Scruggs, the model and fashion blogger who lost her left hand and left eye after she walked into a spinning plane propeller, has been pictured in public for the first time since the horrific accident.
Lauren Scruggs was spotted leaving a hospital in Dallas, where she has been recovering since the accident, with her parents on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old model is said to be doing well despite her appalling ordeal, and she looked in good spirits as she faced the camera again.
As she walked rigidly upright wearing stylish sneakers, pedal-pushers and a blue halterneck top, Lauren Scruggs also had a baseball cap pulled down over her face, hiding her bandaged left eye.
Lauren Scruggs’ left sleeve was left hanging unobtrusively down by her side, to avoid drawing attention to her injury.
Her public appearance comes after it was revealed that the pilot of the plane which injured her tried to warn her to avoid the propeller.
Curt Richmond revealed to air safety officials that he put his arm up and yelled at Lauren Scruggs as she tried to walk in front of the plane on December 3 at Aero County Airport in McKinney, Texas.
Curt Richmond, who has not spoken publicly about the accident, said the plane’s engine was still running and he told the young woman to walk behind the plane and out of harm’s way.
The pilot put down his arm and turned away from Lauren Scruggs when he thought she had turned to walk away from the spinning propeller, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
But it’s unclear whether Lauren Scruggs heard his warning over the roar of the engine.
Moments later, someone on the ground screamed “Stop! Stop!” and Curt Richmond saw Lauren Scruggs laying on the tarmac. He immediately cut the engine.
Investigators say Lauren Scruggs walked into the whirling propeller blades on the front of the plane after a 30-minute plane ride to look at Christmas lights from the sky.
Curt Richmond, believed to be a friend of Lauren Scruggs’, had left the engine running while new passengers filed into the small plane as he prepared another trip to the skies.
The NTSB did not find fault with the pilot for the accident but at least one aviation expert said Curt Richmond is ultimately responsible.
“The bottom line is, he should have shut the engine down,” air safety investigator Denny Kelly said.
“The bottom line is he made a mistake.”
Lauren Scruggs, who has been recovering in hospital since the accident, wrote on the LoLo magazine website for the first time earlier this month.
The model said: “I don’t know how to thank each one of you, properly, for so much love during this difficult incident in my life. My heart is so grateful beyond what I could ever imagine.
“So thank you dearly for the sweet encouragements, the precious words in letters and messages, the beautiful grace in pretty presents, but mostly I am so so thankful for you and your loving hearts and sweet spirits.”
Lauren Scruggs, a communications graduate who is known to her friends as Lo, had just got off of the plane after viewing Christmas lights from above Dallas when the tragedy struck.
She has been in intense rehabilitation ever since.
Lauren Scruggs made her first trip outside the hospital last week, taking a break from her four-and-a-half weeks of intense rehab.
Her mother, who has updated her daughter’s progress on the CaringBridge account, wrote of their visit to Whole Foods: “We had many complete strangers stop us, with tears in their eyes, saying they have been praying for Lo and for our family.”
She recently posted that her daughter is adjusting to her new life and that simple tasks such as “typing an email” are heightened.
“Many have told us how the accident has them seriously thinking about how important God needs to be in their lives, or how it has helped them refocus where they have gotten off track in their spiritual walk.”
In addition to losing her hand and eye, Lauren Scruggs suffered from brain injuries and scaring to half of her face.
Doctors removed her left eye on December 15 and since then she has been in intensive therapy to relearn how to walk, talk, use a stationary bike and even dress herself.
Friends, family and members of the community have so far raised $10,000 to help with her medical bills.
Most recently Lauren Scruggs’ twin sister Brittany Morgan reported feeling sympathetic pain in her own left eye.
“Being twins, and having a bond that most never understand, Britt’s left eye has been twitching for the last 4-5 days every 30 seconds or so,” their mother wrote late last month.
“She knows it’s because of the deep connection she and Lo have, and God allowing her to go through this with her at the <<twin>> level.”
In the build-up to the holiday, Lauren Scruggs’ mother reported her daughter/stylist and fashion blogger’s further strides in her recovery.
She managed to cook scrambled eggs, dress herself, brush her teeth and her hair and take a shower without help, her mother wrote on the webpage.
“Lo is making remarkable strides!” Lauren Scruggs’ mother wrote.
“Her spirit is incredible. She’s positive, hungry and cheery! Her appetite is very healthy, even though she is still taking lots of pain medication.”
December 3rd 2011: Lauren Scruggs walks into an aeroplane propeller at Aero County Airport in McKinney, Texas. She is hospitalized with serious injuries.
December 5th: Lauren Scruggs talks for the first time since the accident, saying her name and telling her family: “I love you.”
December 7th: Lauren Scruggs takes her first steps, but is still being operated on.
December 8th: Lauren Scruggs sees her face in the mirror and says: ‘It’s not that bad.’
December 10th: Lauren Scruggs smiles and raises her eyebrows, showing that her facial nerves were not as badly damaged as was initially feared.
December 12th: Lauren Scruggs is back on solid foods and eats sweet potatoes and hard-boiled eggs.
December 14th: Doctors operate on Lauren Scruggs to remove her left eye, usually a very painful operation.
January 3rd 2012: Lauren Scruggs leaves hospital for the first time, taking a trip to Whole Foods with her mother.
January 9th: Lauren Scruggs returns to her website, LoLo, to post a message of thanks for her supporters, family and friends.