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Heroic flight attendant returns to Georgia crash site

August 24, 1995

[Flight attendant] CARROLLTON, GA (CNN) -- The only flight attendant on board an Atlantic Southeast Airlines commuter plane that crashed Monday toured the crash site Thursday after being released from a hospital.

Robin Fech, 37, wanted to revisit the scene at her doctor's request in order to help her cope with her traumatic experience, said her mother, Claudette Underwood.

Upon leaving Tanner Medical Center, where she was treated for a broken right wrist and other lacerations, Fech was taken to the crash site but did not speak to reporters there.

[Attendant at plane] Leaning on her mother, Fech went through the hayfield where the Embrear 120 broke apart as it crashed, killing five of the 29 people aboard. Fech was escorted by federal investigators and local authorities.

Passengers said Fech acted with the "efficiency of a drill sergeant" as the plane was going down, and "made it back to her own seat just in time."

Underwood said her daughter was very serious at that time, and wanted to confirm that everyone knew how to brace themselves.

The plane crashed after its left engine failed. Beginning Friday, authorities said, the broken pieces of the plane would probably be moved for further analysis and investigation.

[Aerial view] Investigators are still looking for the blade of the propeller which broke off the left engine. Federal investigators confirm the missing propeller blade they are searching for snapped off as a result of tension and metal fatigue. A Federal Aviation Administration-ordered inspection of the same blade last year found an "anomaly" that was repaired at the factory.

"They saw something that needed (repairing)...repaired it, and released it as being for in-service use," said John Hammerschmidt of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The investigation is focusing, in part, on similarities between the Georgia aircraft crash and two other incidents last year, one March 13 in Canada, the second, March 30 in Brazil.

The identical propellers in all three cases fractured in the same place, the officials said, though the two other planes managed to land safely.

Still, a month later, the FAA ordered ultrasonic inspections of all such propellers. As a result of those findings, in February of this year, the FAA issued a mandatory order, giving plane owners until 1997 to rework the interior hollow part of the blades where the fractures occurred.

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