A US model who suffered severe head injuries and had her hand amputated after walking into a plane propeller may have been trying to thank the pilot for a special Christmas flight, her parents believe.
Lauren Scruggs, a fashion blogger, model and former wardrobe assistant on Gossip Girl, was getting off a small plane at a private airport in Dallas on Saturday night, when she walked into the propeller.
The propeller sliced her face, shoulder and severed her left hand, which was later amputated.
The 23-year-old has undergone several reconstructive surgeries, but the extent of any brain damage is not known and she may have permanently lost sight in her left eye, America's ABC News reported.
She had been on the flight with a friend to get an aerial view of Christmas lights in the Texas city.
"It was a really horrible accident," her father Jeff Scruggs told Good Morning America.
"I've been told she got out of the plane afterwards. And I'm guessing she went up to thank the pilot.
"She would have been grateful for him taking her up to see the Christmas lights around Dallas.
"They're telling us it's going to be a long recovery.
"Obviously she's had a lot of trauma to her head, and she lost her left hand and her left eye is questionable. "We're praying she'll regain her sight."
Her mother Cheryl said she was inside the airport when Lauren was hit by the propeller.
"I was there until the care flight got there," Mrs Scruggs said.
"I was just able to hold her and ... that's the toughest part of it all, just seeing her waiting there and waiting for the help.
"All I could do was tell her that I love her."
Mrs Scruggs told the US Today show that Lauren is a fighter.
"She will make it through, and she will use it for good.
"She's going to have a tough time when she finds out...everything that's happened, and losing her left hand is really a tough thing, but she'll fight."
Her family said she was showing some positive signs of recovery and talked on Monday night.
"She didn't speak right away," Mr Scruggs said.
"I said 'Lauren will you say hi to Daddy', and she goes, 'hi'.
"Later she told one of Cheryl's sisters that she loves her. It's so encouraging to us.
"She's really uncomfortable as you can imagine."
People magazine reported Lauren, who is the editor of the online Lolo Magazine, was also able to tell doctors her name.
The Scruggs family do not believe the pilot was negligent, but an aviation expert said the pilot should have done more.
Greg Feith, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, told NBC News: "The pilot is responsible for the care and oversight of not only the people who are flying as passengers, but anybody that may be a pedestrian around the aeroplane."
- Sydney Morning Herald