Samantha Hayes, a 27-year-old mother of three, was struck by the wing of a 1972 Beechcraft Bonanza A36.
A 27-year-old woman in Oklahoma was riding a lawnmower next to an airport runway on Sept. 29, 2023, when she was struck and killed by the wing of a small airplane.
According to the Associated Press, the woman was identified as Samantha Hayes of Idabel. She had been mowing the grass at the Broken Bow Municipal Airport, roughly 185 miles east of Oklahoma City.
Officials said they are “investigating whether any charges should be filed against the pilot.”
The pilot, 70-year-old James Baxter, had been in the process of landing the single-engine aircraft, a 1972 Beechcraft Bonanza A36, when he saw Hayes. According to Baxter, he’d just touched down on the runway at 2:30 p.m. when he spotted her. He “attempted to pull up” and “get the wing over” the young woman, but he was unable to take off again in time. Unfortunately, the wing fatally struck her.
“Did the pilot do anything wrong, or was this just unavoidable?” asked Oklahoma Department of Public Safety spokesperson Sarah Stewart.
Stewart said there were several other questions investigators are seeking to answer, including whether Hayes had been wearing reflective clothing or if she even saw the plane. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meanwhile, is investigating whether either Baxter or his aircraft violated any regulatory procedures.
According to USA Today, Facebook tributes posted by Hayes’ close friends and family revealed that the young woman was a single mother of three children of unknown ages.
“Samantha Hayes was a wonderful great mom to her 3 babies!” wrote one of Hayes’ friends. “She was a single mom who worked hard to give them a safe and loving home! These babies knew they were loved everyday all day! Them babies will know how much their momma loved them. We never know when these things are gonna happen but they can and for her it did.”
In an email, Broken Bow Police Chief Richard Wiggins informed USA Today that the FAA and the FBI are conducting a joint investigation into the incident, and that so far, no charges have been filed.
Wiggins also noted that Baxter was not injured. Baxter, who is listed as the owner of the 1972 Bonanza A36, had left from McKinney National Airport in Dallas, Texas just under an hour before the incident. The 50-minute journey led him to Broken Bow, where his plane’s wing unfortunately struck Hayes.
Hayes, Wiggins revealed, was a city employee assigned to the Parks Department.
“This is a terribly tragic accident, and our deepest sympathies go out to the employee’s family, friends, and co-workers,” said Broken Bow City Manager Vickie Patterson in an official statement. “Our number one priority is always safety to the employees and public. It’s critical that we determine how this accident occurred.”
After reading about the Oklahoma mother who died when she was struck by an airplane wing, learn about the Texas woman who was attacked by a snake and a hawk while mowing her lawn. Then, go inside the tragic story of the Oklahoma woman who was fatally mauled by a pack of dachshunds.