IT has been confirmed that at least four passengers on the Toronto-bound Fly Jamaica OJ256 flight which crashed-landed Friday morning sustained multiple injuries.
Just around 03:00hrs Friday morning, the plane with 118 passengers on board was returning to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) due to ‘hydraulic issues’ just moments after takeoff when it overshot the runway, ploughed into the fence around the perimeter, and came to a halt at a heap of sand beyond the enclosure.
The Guyana Chronicle spoke with some of the injured passengers who were waiting at the Diamond Diagnostic Centre to be transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
“The plane had a problem, and they still took it up in the air,” said Davanan Sukhram, 55. “Forty-five minutes in the air, the pilot decided to come back to the Timehri Airport.
“But as the plane lands down, it bounces and it starts to trip out; like you mash brakes and the brakes failed and it crashed,” he told the Guyana Chronicle.
He went on to detail how he felt at the time, and how the other passengers on board the plane reacted to the situation. “We were panicked,” Sukhram said. “When I was sitting down, one of the doors from the overhead compartments fell and hit me and several other people on the head, and on the neck.
“Then we were all running with speed and in excitement in the plane to catch the door to get out because there was smoke. My ribs are squished up from pushing, and my neck, my hands, my shoulder and foot muscles are killing me.
“We had to come out and walk in the sand; we had to walk about a mile from there to catch the terminals. It was very frustrating, and at that time we did anything to survive. I can’t remember seeing the two infants, because it was very confusing at that time.” Injured, too, was 62-year-old ‘Babs’ Curry who, while seated in a wheelchair, gave as detailed an account as possible of the fear and chaos that ensued on the plane when passengers realised that all was not well.
“It was terrible,” she said. “Before we left, they said that there was a problem with the door, so we stayed there for a while, maybe half-an-hour, and they fixed it.
“After that, the plane took off, and when we got about 20 minutes in the air, we started to hear this noise like a big growling.
“He [the pilot] said he was going to come back, because it wasn’t safe for us, because we’re going to go over water. So he decided to come back, and said it’s going to take 20 minutes to get back.
“When we got back, the landing was terrible. I don’t know what happened. We started screaming and everything; when coming down, we heard this growling noise, and this grazing on the sand.
“There was smoke, and we had to slide down the emergency slide. Some people lost their shoes; my friend glasses fell out. It was chaos; there was no light.
“I took my phone and I tried to find my way among other people I could see standing around.”
Explaining how she came to be wearing a brace around her neck, Ms Curry said: “I got my injury from the impact, because more than twice it was a hard hit.”
Placed in the ambulance along with Curry was 67-year-old Bibi Ali, who also sustained injuries to her neck, and was seated somewhere in the middle of the plane when it encountered difficulties.
“When I was sliding down the plane, we fell and everybody started to pack on you. I lost my glasses and I couldn’t really see,” Ms Ali said, adding:
“When I fell, everybody started trampling me; on my back and my foot, and two guys tried to help me.
“Everybody was trying to get out when they saw the smoke in the plane.”
Fifty-seven-year-old Janice Adams, who had to be carried by stretcher, managed to tell this newspaper how she came to injure both of her legs.
“I landed on my knees,” she said. “I jumped out of the plane by the window, and I landed on my right knee.”
Sukhram, whith whom the Guyana Chronicle spoke first, is now hoping to get word from the airlines regarding compensation for his injuries and discomfort.
Although he believes the pilot saved the day, he said he doesn’t think that the plane should have left the ground given the problems it was having.
“I was scared that the plane wasn’t fit to fly in the first place, because they had a problem before we left,” he said. “When the plane was lifting, you could have heard the grinding sound of the plane, and when the plane was coming back, it was struggling to land but the pilot did an excellent job.
“He did the right thing to turn back the plane, or else we would have crashed in the sea and everybody would have died.”
Sukhram said that it took emergency personnel between 15 to 20 minutes to arrive.
He and the few other injured passengers are now at the GPHC receiving medical attention.