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Model Survives After Being Struck by Plane Propeller

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Model Lauren Scruggs was able to respond to voice commands on Monday by moving her arms and legs, less than two days after the 23-year-old walked into the propeller of a small airplane, leaving her body severely mangled.

Scruggs had just got off of a two-seater plane at a private airport in McKinney, Texas, Saturday night after looking at Christmas lights when she ran into the plane’s propeller.  Her left hand, shoulder and face were hit.

The model, who also founded a lifestyle magazine, was rushed to Parkland Hospital in Dallas where her left hand was amputated.  She underwent several surgeries over the weekend and is now in stable condition.  But the extent of her brain injury is still not known, family spokesperson Janee Harrell told ABC News.

How Scruggs ran into the propeller remains unclear.

“It’s speculative at this point, but what we’re thinking is the plane landed and they were picking up the next passengers,” Harrell said.  “It was dark and we think she probably turned around to thank the pilot.”

Harrell said Scruggs was not drinking at the time of the incident.

ABC News aviation consultant John Nance said incidents such as Scruggs’ are extremely rare and underscore the need for pilots to be especially clear in issuing safety directions.

“It sounds like this is a combination of a bad procedure by the pilot and the passenger not properly realizing her proximity,” Nance said.  “One of the things I’d have to look at is why in the world a pilot permitted a passenger to board or deboard while a propeller was turning.”

For now, Scruggs’ recovery remains uncertain, but Nance said the model is extremely lucky.

“It’s like walking into a big Cuisinart,” he said.  “I’m surprised it didn’t tear her in half.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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