One of two survivors of a commuter plane crash that killed 13 people said in an interview broadcast Thursday that he heard “terrible screams” as the plane came down, and he fell out of the aircraft through an open door.
The Corporate Airlines plane en route from St. Louis crashed late Tuesday in a wooded area as it approached its landing in Kirksville. Eight bodies were found Tuesday, and five more were discovered Wednesday.
The survivors, Dr. John Krogh, 68, and his assistant, 44-year-old Wendy Bonham, were hospitalized in fair condition. Krogh was found in brush about 25 feet from the fuselage; Bonham had been walking around, police said.
“There was just a crashing sound,” Krogh told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I’m sure that was the wing hitting a tree. I just didn’t believe that it was happening. As we bounced along through the trees, people started screaming badly. Terrible screams.”
He said the plane was on fire and he could hear Bonham calling his name. He said he fell out of the plane through an exit door that somehow had become open.
“I didn’t know we had assigned seats and I walked in there and sat down in that seat, and that may have saved my life,” Krogh said.
“The wing was gone and I knew there was no way that I could do anything but just pull myself out and let myself fall,” he said.
“The cries and the thoughts of those good people just came to my mind and I thought, oh, gosh, is there anything I can do?”
Bonham’s husband, Russ, said she also somehow fell from the craft, though “she has a hard time remembering some of it.”
Rescuers who rushed to the scene had held little hope of finding survivors: The aircraft was in flames, with one of its wings broken off. But Krogh, of Wallsburg, Utah, a part-time faculty member at Provo College, and Bonham almost inexplicably escaped with little more than broken bones.
“We see car accidents with worse injuries coming in here every week,” said Dr. Charles Zeman, director of trauma services at Northeast Regional Medical Center. “This is truly a miracle.”
“It was remarkable,” said National Transportation Safety Board member Carol Carmody.
The cause of the crash was not known. Skies were overcast and misting, and thunderstorms were in the area when the plane went down.
Recorders in good shape
Carmody said the NTSB expected to get an initial reading Thursday from the plane’s two flight data recorders, which are “both in very good shape.” The Jetstream 32 was a 19-seat twin-engine turboprop.
“The recorders are both in very good shape. They were very solid,” Carmody said.
The crew’s last communication indicated the plane was on a normal approach to the airport, with no mention of any problems, said Elizabeth Isham Cory, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman.
The airport at Kirksville, a city of about 17,000, does not have an instrument landing system, a valuable tool for pilots trying to land in poor weather, said Randy Smith, president of the Kirksville Pilots Association.
Many of the passengers were on their way to a conference on humanism in medicine, said Philip Slocum, dean and vice president for medical affairs at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“As bad as you think it’s going to be, it’s worse to go through it. There’s been a lot of tears. It’s very painful,” Slocum said.
Those killed in the crash include Steve Z. Miller, director of pediatric emergency medicine at the Columbia University medical school in New York, and Dr. M. Bridget Wagner, an assistant dean at Ohio University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Corporate Airlines, based in Smyrna, Tenn., began operating in 1996 and is affiliated with American Airlines.