Tributes paid to woman killed by wing of plane whilst riding lawnmower next to airport runway

Single mother-of-three Samantha Hayes died after she was struck by the wing of a landing plane whilst riding a lawnmower next to an airport runway. 

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A 27-year-old woman was killed after she was struck by the wing of a landing plane as she rode a lawnmower whilst on duty at a small airport in Oklahoma, US, officials said. Single mother-of-three Samantha Hayes died on Friday at Broken Bow Municipal Airport, about 185 miles south-east of Oklahoma City.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, Ms Hayes was riding the vehicle when a 1972 Beechcraft Bonanza A36 came in for landing, reported the New York Post. The pilot, James Baxter, 70, noticed Hayes and tried to take off to avoid hitting her, but a wing fatally struck the woman in the head as he was unable to gain altitude fast enough. 

OHP spokesperson Sarah Stewart said: “We’re investigating whether any charges could be filed against the pilot. Did the pilot do anything wrong or was this just unavoidable?”

She said other questions about the episode remained under investigation, including whether the woman was wearing reflective clothing and if she saw the plane. Ms Stewart added that the Federal Aviation Administration was investigating any potential regulatory violations regarding the pilot and the aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Broken Bow city manager, who is listed as the airport manager, did not immediately return messages for comment.

The small airport, which has a 3,200-foot asphalt runway, does not have air traffic controllers, thus pilots must self-announce landings and takeoffs over the radio. According to officials, the weather was clear at the time of the tragedy.

Friends and family have since taken to social media to pay their tributes following her death. Carley Hayes wrote: “I am so sorry this happened. You was (sic) one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, I’ve never heard you say a cuss word or talk down on anyone. 

“You was (sic) so full of life and had a whole life ahead of you with your precious babies. You’ve got a whole family that’s gonna make sure them babies are good I promise. I am so mad and upset I just don’t understand at all.” 

Broken Bow Municipal AirportBroken Bow Municipal Airport
Broken Bow Municipal Airport

Another friend, Brooke Dean wrote: “Rest in peace this sweet beautiful soul, Samantha Hayes. I loved getting to know you and hanging out…I will forever cherish those memories we made they are absolutely precious to me. I wish we had more time, Sammy. We love you.”

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