'I fell from the sky and survived.' Passengers aboard Aeromexico flight recount fiery crash

Even before her plane took off, Ashley Garcia sensed danger coming.Torrential rain was thrashing the ...

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 11:06 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 11:06 AM

Even before her plane took off, Ashley Garcia sensed danger coming.

Torrential rain was thrashing the runway. Thick gray clouds covered everything outside her passenger window.

Accidents

Accidents, disasters and safety

Aircraft accidents

Air transportation

Aircraft

Aviation and aerospace industry

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Transportation and warehousing

Aeromexico Airlines

Airlines

Companies

But most terrifying was the brutal wind, which was so intense it made the wings of the plane shake.

"I was like: 'We are not about to take off. This is insane,'" the 17-year-old from Chicago said.

But Aeromexico Flight 2431 pushed forward anyway. Garcia started recording with her phone.

Seconds later, the wind "pushed us right back down, and we were just bouncing," Garcia said. The twin-engine jet struck the ground, went back up in the air, then crashed much more violently before coming to a fiery stop.

"I really thought I was not going to make it," Garcia said.

She's not the only passenger stunned that's she's alive. All 99 passengers and four crew members survived Tuesday's crash of Flight 2431, en route from Durango, Mexico, to Mexico City. Seventeen people were still receiving medical attention Thursday.

"I just grabbed my daughter and went as hard as I could," Dorelia Rivera told CNN affiliate WLS about her escape. "I honestly thought I was going to break her arm because I finally grabbed onto her hard enough and I'm like, 'I'm not letting you go.'"

As passengers swarmed toward the emergency slides, flames were shooting out from the front cabin.

But passenger Al Herrera walked away with just bruises on his arm and a passport caked with mud from the scene.

"I fell from the sky and survived," Herrera said, as he waited for a flight to take him home to Chicago. "People die when planes crash. And here I am, as a survivor, taking another plane."

Why you're more likely to survive plane crashes now

Despite the violent, fiery end to Flight 2431, the fact that so many people survived doesn't surprise aviation experts.

"It's actually getting to be more typical -- more the rule than the exception," said Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the Department of Transportation.

In fact, no one dies in 87% of air crashes, Schiavo said, citing the International Civil Aviation Organization.

"It's the science of crashworthiness that has really improved over the last 20 years to help people survive a crash," she said.

Many safety improvements have stemmed from earlier tragedies, such as the crash of Delta Flight 191 in Dallas exactly 33 years ago Thursday.

"For example, changing the seat fabric and the insulation on the seats ... gave passengers 40 to 60 extra seconds before the cabin filled with deadly fumes."

And these days, in order for a plane to operate, "you have to show that everybody can get off that plane" in 90 seconds, Schiavo said.

"The reason for the 90 seconds is that is the time that studies have shown that you can get off before the plane starts burning; before there can be a very large fire or explosions; or before fumes fill the cabins."

While authorities haven't determined the cause of Tuesday's crash, Schiavo said she suspects a wind shear or a microburst may have played a role.

A wind shear is a change in wind speed and/or direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. A microburst is a localized column of sinking air that drops down in a thunderstorm.

Rivera said she was shocked that the plane took off at all.

"I travel all the time for work, at least once or twice a week, and I said, 'There's no way we're going to leave,'" Rivera told WLS. "And then lo and behold, we started moving and I said, 'OK, I guess we are going.' I really was surprised that we were going to leave with the weather the way it was.

But it may be months before officials release an official cause of the crash.

'I still see the flames'

More than a day after the crash, Herrera said he can't close his eyes without reliving the trauma.

"It's still fresh in my mind. I can't close my eyes right now. I still see the flames," he said. "The lady in front of me held my arm because I was sobbing."

While modern safety precautions may have prevented deaths from the crash, the Rev. Esequiel Sanchez -- a passenger from Illinois -- says there's another reason:

"We didn't lose anyone, and that was a miracle," he said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 30°
Columbus
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 26°
Oxford
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 28°
Starkville
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 27°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for our Saturday. This will keep us filled with plenty of sunshine in our weather forecast for our Saturday.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather