Why the hell was the engine not shut down for the transfer of the passengers.???This is not the first ......and surely will happen again with a stupid pilot leaving the engine running while enplaning and deplaning passenger(s).....and a prop plane at that! What a tragedy...
I hope that the pilot didn't leave the engine running while he/she changed passengers.
The ramp area at my 'home' airport is easily accessible to pedestrians. When I'm on the ramp with the prop turning, I'm always on the lookout for pedestrians. That is not a good time to be 'head down' doing other tasks. I've shut down the engine a couple of times because people were getting too close to the front of my airplane.
At one point in time years back I used to have a recurring dream that someone was walking straight toward the prop, I pulled the mixture but it wouldn't spin down in time.
Even with fellow pilots I'm reluctant to let someone get out (or in) with the engine running and I'm sure many would gasp that I have ever done it with anyone.
As I predicted, some cannot imagine deplaining/boarding anyone with the engine running.
However, this isn't an absolute. For various valid considerations (hot start, turbine cycle, etc) it isn't totally outrageous to do this as long as the pilot is very certain the people involved are thoroughly aware of the need to avoid spinning hardware or are under the absolute control of someone who is. It is not at all unusual to depart or board a helicopter with the blades still spinning, it's all in the circumstances.
Turning off the mags is the fastest and safest way to shut down the engine in case of this type of situation. I do not allow boarding or deplaning with a spinning prop. The risk is too great. Shut the engine off. No injury or death is worth the few moments spent restarting!
Sad. At night time, spinning propellers are almost invisible. A little photoluminescent paint on the tip of the propeller would have prevented this. Looks like Hartzell are already offering a solution: http://www.hartzellprop.com/news.php?pr=236.
"Hartzell will offer DHi’s AfterGlo® Brand Photoluminescent (PL) Safety Paint as an option on new Hartzell propellers from its factory."
Apparently, the pilot was a friend of the family. I can't imagine what he must be going through right now. Hopefully she'll recover and will still have an appreciation for aviation.
@SocalFlyer: Good point about the helicopter - though people are less likely to come in contact with the main rotor (and obviously need to be aware of the need to enter/exit from/towards the front of the ship in order to avoid the tail rotor).