A veteran flight attendant who helped rescue passengers from the Asiana Airlines plane that crashed last weekend spoke out about how she and other crew members narrowly escaped before the plane was engulfed in fire.
Lee, 40, has worked for the airline for 18 years. She said she knew something was wrong when the plane hit the runway harder than usual.
“It was not the landing we usually do and it was even more than a hard landing. We bumped hard, bumped again, leaned to both sides and stopped,” she said at a press conference earlier this week.
Once the plane came to a halt after crashing into the runway, emergency slides deployed inside the aircraft and trapped two crew members. Crew members had to pop the slides with an ax and a knife to free those trapped underneath.
Lee said she checked on the pilots to make sure they were O.K. and then started evacuating people. She put out fires as the plane filled with smoke.
“My brain was very clear, and I planned what I had to do immediately. … As soon as I heard ’emergency escape,’ I conducted the evacuation,” Lee said. ” When there was a fire, I was just thinking to extinguish it, not thinking that it’s too dangerous or ‘What am I going to do?'”
She talked about how other crew members behaved bravely. One took a child on her back and helped him down the emergency slide, and a pilot helped an injured flight attendant get off the plane.
At some point during the crash or rescue, Lee’s tailbone was broken.
“She was not concerned for her safety, but everyone else’s,” said Joanne Hayes-White, San Francisco’s fire chief.
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