Boeing 737 crashes into Florida river

Plane carrying 143 people from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to a military base in Jacksonville but ended up in the St. John's River.

Sara Rubenstein,

Boeing airplane
Boeing airplane
Thinkstock

A chartered Boeing 737 with 143 people aboard landed hard during a thunderstorm on Friday night, skidded off the runway and crashed into a river near Naval Air Station, Jacksonville.

The plane, run by Miami Air International, had flown from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to a military base in Jacksonville but ended up in the St. John's River.

Passengers were terrified as the plane bounced back and forth and overhead bins opened, spilling their contents and adding to the chaos.

The seven crew members and 136 passengers evacuated the plane from its wings.

“I think it is a miracle,” said Capt. Michael Connor, the base’s commanding officer. “We could be talking about a different story this evening.”

Defense attorney Cheryl Bormann, a passenger on the plane told CNN: "The plane literally hit the ground and bounced - it was clear the pilot did not have total control of the plane, it bounced again. We were in the water. We couldn't tell where we were, whether it was a river or an ocean." Borman also said that the passengers could smell jet fuel.

Bormann added that the passengers remained calm as the airplane crew efficiently directed them. Everyone helped each other to don life vests and evacuate the plane.

Bormann is a death penalty attorney who is defending Walid bin Attash, accused of participating in the training of 9/11 hijackers.

Miami Air International has many military contracts, included twice-weekly flights between the US and Guantanamo Bay. The passengers on the plane included civilian and military personnel, according to officials.




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