Thursday, March 14, 2024

Carotid dissection

The autopsy results for an Indiana mother of two who died in February on a flight home from her vacation in the Dominican Republic have reportedly been released.

A forensic pathologist told Stefanie Smith's family that the 41-year-old woman died of natural causes; specifically, a carotid artery dissection in her neck, her brother Chris Volz said in an interview with ABC News.

"It was truly a tragic medical event that happened," he told the outlet, adding that the autopsy did not suggest foul play.

Smith was on an American Airlines flight from Punta Cana headed to a connection in Charlotte, North Carolina, when she suddenly began convulsing soon after takeoff, forcing the plane to divert to Turks and Caicos, as her friend, Maria Yannotti, previously told Fox News Digital.

"Her boyfriend had told us that they were getting ready to … get altitude, or they hadn't been in the air very long. But he said that he looked over at her, and her head was tilted back in her seat. Her eyes were rolled in the back of her head, and he thought she was just making fun of them. They normally joke around … like that," said Yannotti, who was on the trip to Punta Cana with her fianc√©, Smith and Smith's boyfriend.

"And he said, ‘Next thing you know, she was convulsing,’" Yannotti added.

Smith's boyfriend asked flight attendants for help, and they began performing CPR, to no avail.

The Turks and Caicos Island Police announced that day they received a call at 6:12 p.m. from "the Air Traffic Control Tower requesting medical assistance for a 41-year-old female, who at the time was receiving [CPR]." Authorities dispatched a medical team and police to the scene and transported Smith to the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre, where she was pronounced dead.

Just before her plane took off, Smith texted Yannotti at 4:55 p.m., asking Yannotti to remind her to call once she reached her connection in Charlotte because she had "a funny story" to tell.

Yannotti said Smith and her boyfriend went with them on the trip to celebrate Yannotti's fiancé's birthday.

"Everything she had, I had," Yannotti said. "We ate about the same meals. We drank about the same drinks. You know, it wasn't like [any]body was belligerent. [W]e just had our nice drinks by the pool and by the beach. I mean, most of the time, we watched them open the bottles right in front of us. We were having a great time. We played beach volleyball. We swam."

Yannotti, who said she has known Smith for nearly two years because their partners are friends, went on to describe her friend as a "ball of energy" and "the life of the party."

"She's definitely one of a kind. She was a ball of energy. She was always willing to help somebody, excited, always smiling. When I met her … I just knew we were going to click because she was a personality like myself. She was just full of life. I mean, she would give anybody a shirt off her back. Sometimes she would put … people before herself, and she loved to have a good time. Loved to laugh … sing karaoke. Just the life of the party."

Smith leaves behind an 18-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. Her body is expected to be flown back to the United States next week, ABC reported.

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