|This Boeing 737 left a trail through the snow when it veered off the runway at Denver International Airport Saturday. (Associated Press/Helen H. Richardson,The Denver Post)|
Passengers walked away from jet crash
DENVER - In a shallow, snow-covered ravine between runways, Assistant Fire Chief Bill Davis saw the hulking
And its 115 passengers and crew members calmly walking toward the lights of an airport fire station.
"It wasn't mass chaos," said Davis, among the first rescuers to reach the wreckage of the jet Saturday night at Denver International Airport, where it mysteriously veered off the runway during takeoff.
The emergency slides on
The accident brought to mind the quick and orderly evacuation of 165 people from a China Airlines Boeing 737 moments before it exploded in Tokyo in August 2007 because of a pierced fuel tank.
Davis called it a miracle that no one died in Denver. "It was just amazing," he said.
Thirty-eight people suffered broken bones, bruises, and other injuries, but Robert Sumwalt, a National Transportation Safety Board member, didn't know whether they were caused by the impact or the evacuation. There was no official word on the possible cause.
The damaged plane will remain for several days in the 40-foot-deep ravine, Sumwalt said.
The plane carried 110 passengers and five crew and was headed for Houston. It came to a rest about 200 yards from one of the airport's four fire stations.
Passengers walked out of the ravine in clear, 24-degree weather and toward the lights of the fire station nearby, Davis said.
The plane veered off course about 2,000 feet from the end of the runway and did not appear to have gotten airborne, city aviation manager Kim Day said.
Firefighters said they doused the blaze quickly and then searched the cabin to make sure no one was trapped. Anyone trapped in the cabin probably wouldn't have survived the thick smoke, Davis said.