It is truly a miracle that all 99 passengers and 4 crew members are alive after an Aeroméxico airplane crash in Durango, Mexico on Tuesday. Some of the 103 people onboard are providing their insight as to why the plane came crashing down, including videos taken by some passengers onboard.
Manuel Bojorquez, for CBS News, reports that the Embraer 190 Jetliner began its ascent from the runway but came crashing down about one minute later. Dorelia Rivera, a passenger on flight 2431 with her 14-year-old daughter, said, “We didn’t think we were going to make it. I honestly have no idea how anyone survived.” She grabbed her daughter from the seat and dragged her out of the plane by her arm. She remembers holding onto her daughter so tight that her daughter was afraid her mother would break her arm.
As the left wing of the plane hit the ground, the plane lost both engines and finally came to a stop more than 300 yards away from the runway. Another passenger of flight 2431, Ashley Garcia, claimed she had sensed danger approaching and thought to herself, ‘We are not about to take off. This is insane.’ Rain was pouring heavily onto the runway and thick rain clouds covered her passenger window entirely. Aeroméxico Flight 2431 decided to take off anyway, and that is when Garcia began recording with her cellphone. A few moments after take-off Garcia recalls how the wind “pushed us right back down, and we were just bouncing.” Both engines from the airplane struck the ground, went back up into the air, and once again crashed down more violently than the first time before finally coming to a harsh stop. Ashley Garcia said, “I really thought I was not going to make it.”
As passengers quickly tried to escape the wreckage, many had to go through plumes of thick smoke that could be seen miles away. One passenger, Ramin Parsa, couldn’t figure out why the plane even took off to begin with during the harsh weather conditions. “I think it was a mistake by the pilot. He should not have taken off,” Parsa said.
Alberto Herrera, who was also on flight 2431, said “As we started going up the wind started picking up and then the hail started coming down on us. The plane couldn’t handle it and we just came down.” He continued saying, “I fell from the sky and survived, people die when planes crash. And here I am, as a survivor, taking another plane.”
According to Aeroméxico, 64 passengers have been released from the hospital so far. Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst, said while the crew’s actions to get the airplane down in the safest manner definitely saved lives, investigators will still be analyzing the moments leading up to take off. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent two investigators to assist Mexico’s Ministry of Transportation, and Mexican investigators did report that they have recovered both black boxes from the crash site.
“Pilots have the right, by the way, to say I don’t think it’s safe, I don’t care what the airline says,” Harteveldt said. “I’m not going to be taking off until I’m convinced it’s as safe as it’s going to be.”
Despite the plane crashing, aviation experts were not surprised that there were no fatalities. “It’s actually getting to be more typical — more the rule than the exception,” said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general. Citing the International Civil Aviation Organization, Schiavo mentioned that in 87% of airplane crashes there are no fatalities. “It’s the science of crashworthiness that has really improved over the last 20 years to help people survive a crash,” she said.