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Family of 41-Year-Old Woman Who Died After Falling Ill on Flight Still Uncertain What Caused Her Sudden Death

"It’s been a week so we’re past the initial shock. But now, it’s the uncertainty," the deceased's brother, Chris Volz, said of his sister's death

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

Stefanie Smith/Facebook

Stefanie Smith

The brother of Stefanie Smith — the 41-year-old woman who suddenly died after falling ill on an American Airlines flight from the Dominican Republic last week — shares how the family is still uncertain about what caused her death.

On Feb. 28, Smith was traveling from the Dominican Republic to Charlotte, N.C., and became unwell "mid-flight," according to a media release from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force. The plane then made an emergency landing at Providenciales International Airport in Turks and Caicos. Smith was transported to the hospital but died at the facility.

Smith's brother, Chris Volz, shared with NBC News that the family is still grappling with not knowing what caused her death.

“I’d say the uncertainty, the not knowing how she died, the not knowing when her body will be returned to us, has been the hardest thing recently,” said Volz. “It’s been a week so we’re past the initial shock. But now, it’s the uncertainty.”

Related: Woman, 41, Dies After She 'Fell Ill' on American Airlines Flight from the Dominican Republic

<p>Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty</p> Stock image - american airline

Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty

Stock image - american airline

He also shared that Smith’s “celebration of life” has a tentative date; however, her body has not been released from the Turks and Caicos Hospital. He said the family is unsure when they will receive her body and confirmed they have not heard from American Airlines but are “hoping to find out soon.”

Volz also spoke of his sister’s healthy lifestyle, explaining that she “coached cheerleading and softball, when her kids were younger.” Smith was a mother of two children: an 18-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter.

"She was very active,” said Volz. “Right before she left, she took a picture with everyone and there was no indication that she was sick."

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

Stefanie Smith/Facebook

Stefanie Smith

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

He also previously told ABC News, “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."

Along with Volz, Smith's friend Maria Yannotti — who joined her on the vacation  — also spoke with ABC News. Yannotti shared how Smith 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 said.

Yannotti said that Smith's eyes rolled back and she started convulsing in her seat.

Photo courtesy of American Airlines Stock image of American Airlines Boeing 737-800
Photo courtesy of American Airlines Stock image of American Airlines Boeing 737-800

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Before Smith died, the Air Traffic Control requested medical assistance for her as she was “receiving Cardiopulmonary resuscitation,” at around 6:15 p.m. local time, said the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force in a Facebook statement.

“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.”

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