Woman, 41, Who Died on Plane from Dominican Republic Seemed Healthy Before Flight, Says Friend


Stefanie Smith was traveling from the Dominican Republic to Charlotte, N.C. when she became unwell mid-flight

<p>Stefanie Smith/Facebook</p> Stefanie Smith

Stefanie Smith/Facebook

Stefanie Smith

Family and friends are speaking out following the sudden death of a 41-year-old woman during an American Airlines flight from the Dominican Republic last week.

Stefanie Smith was traveling to Charlotte, N.C. on Feb. 28 when she became unwell “mid-flight,” according to a media release from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force. The plane made an emergency landing at Providenciales International Airport in Turks and Caicos and Smith was transported to the hospital where she later died.

Speaking to ABC News, Smith’s friend Maria Yannotti revealed that Smith had been on vacation with her boyfriend and appeared healthy before the flight.

“She loves going to the gym every day, even while we were in the Dominican. She made it a point to get up every morning to go to the gym and run on the beach,” Yannotti, who was also on the trip, told the outlet.

<p>Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty</p> A stock image of an American Airlines plane

Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty

A stock image of an American Airlines plane

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According to Yannotti, Smith’s boyfriend was sitting next to her on the flight and said her eyes rolled back and she started convulsing.

Meanwhile, Smith’s brother Chris Volz told ABC News that she was the mother of two children: an 18-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter. Volz added that he was not aware of his sister having any pre-existing health conditions.

“She was a special person…Her kids really…love her a lot, and I know she loved them,” Volz said. “And so it’s tough.”

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Police said Air Traffic Control requested medical assistance for the woman, “who at the time was receiving Cardiopulmonary resuscitation,” at around 6:15 p.m. local time.

“A commercial flight was diverted to the Turks and Caicos this evening after a female passenger fell ill mid-flight,” police shared in a statement on Facebook. “At 6:12 pm, the Police Control Room received a call from the Air Traffic Control Tower requesting medical assistance for a 41-year-old female, who at the time was receiving Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).”

“A medical team, along with police units, were dispatched, and the patient was transported to Cheshire Hall Medical Centre, where she died,” they added. “A post-mortem will be conducted to ascertain the cause of death.”

PEOPLE has contacted the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force for further information.

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