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Parents of injured model: 'She will fight through this'

Lauren Scruggs may have suffered devastating injuries during a horrific propeller accident over the weekend, but her parents said she has the indomitable spirit to endure a long and painful recovery.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Lauren Scruggs may have suffered devastating injuries during a horrific propeller accident over the weekend, but her parents said she has the indomitable spirit to endure a long and painful recovery.

At 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the 23-year-old model and editor landed at Aero Country Airport, about 30 miles from Dallas, after flying with a pilot friend to view the Christmas Lights in the area.

While moving in darkness toward the front of the plane after landing, Scruggs walked into the still-moving propeller. It struck her left side, severing her left hand, fracturing her skull, causing a brain injury and breaking her left collarbone. She also suffered extensive damage to her left eye, which she could still possibly lose.

Lauren's parents, Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs, appeared on TODAY Tuesday to discuss her daughter’s recovery and the outpouring of support since the near-fatal accident. The part-time model and editor of LoLo Magazine is currently resting in intensive care at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. She was able to speak recently for the first time, telling her mother and sister, “I love you.’’

“She is just a fighter, and she will fight through this,’’ Cheryl Scruggs told Ann Curry. “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.’’

“It’s been a really horrendous two days, but we do see some bright signs ahead, and we just thank all those who have been praying for us,’’ her father said. “We’re grateful.’’

Doctors may be able to save Scruggs’s badly damaged left eye, her parents said.

“It’s going to be several weeks before they know for sure what is going to happen with the eye,’’ said Jeff Scruggs. “They operated on her two days ago just on the eye for over six hours, which we saw as a good thing, and we’re just praying that she comes through with that. The original prognosis was that she was going to lose the eye, so that was a blessing, so we’re grateful to God for that.’’

Lauren already showed her parents some of that fighting spirit by trying to communicate with them a mere two days after the accident.

“Just seeing her just trying to open her right eye a tiny bit, and then move her lips and she said “Hi,’’ that just brought us to our knees,’’ her mother said through tears.

Lauren Scruggs

Rather than see the accident as a tragedy, her parents said it's a blessing that their daughter was not killed by the propeller. They are also thankful for the team of doctors — who said Lauren is lucky to be alive — that have assisted her in her recovery.

“This is a miracle,’’ Jeff told NBC News.

The plane had landed to pick up another passenger, and her parents believe Lauren was walking toward the front of the plane to thank the pilot, a friend of hers, when she collided with the moving propeller. The pilot could not be reached by NBC for comment, but Scruggs’s parents believe it was an accident and not negligence on the pilot’s part. An expert feels that the pilot should have done more to avoid the incident.

“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 airplane,’’ Greg Feith, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, told NBC News.

Doctors have told the Scruggs family Lauren's return will be long and arduous. But they are optimistic. Before the accident, Lauren was in excellent physical shape, Jeff noted.

“Lauren is a go-getter, and she has always been a go-getter,’’ her mother said. “The doctors are so pleased right now because her progress has just been phenomenal. They can’t even really believe that that’s going on.’’

“She is a strong girl,’’ her father said. “She is going to fight.’’

Prayers have poured in from all over the country in emails and via the website, where her progress is regularly updated. Since Lauren will need numerous additional surgeries, according to doctors, her parents have also set up the Lauren Scruggs Hope Fund as a way to raise money to help pay for her medical bills.

“She’s just going to need a lot of care for a long time,’’ her father said. “More than anything, we just covet your prayers, especially for the next couple weeks.’’