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Witness describes San Francisco plane crash

July 06, 2013|By Lee Romney
  • A piece of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that broke off after the jetliner crashed at San Francisco International Airport, as seen from a neighboring plane.
A piece of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that broke off after the jetliner… (Red Neri )

SAN FRANCISCO-- Red Neri, 41, and his wife Lynne, 43, were aboard United Airlines Flight 885 bound for Osaka, Japan, and scheduled for takeoff at 11:15 am., when the Asiana jetliner came hurtling down the adjacent runway.

“It sounded like a sonic boom, which of course was an explosion,” said Red Neri, who lives in the East Bay community of Livermore and was headed with his wife on vacation.

The commuter operations manager said he glimpsed the face of the flight attendant, who had a better view of what was happening. “She just kept saying, 'Oh, my God, Oh, my God,’” said Neri, who was preparing to return home after sitting in the plane for three and a half hours. The couple rebooked another fight for Sunday.

They watched in horror as the Asiana aircraft shed debris, including the wheels and the tail.

“There’s your tail,” he said, displaying an image on his digital camera. “It happened so fast. It just happened so fast.”

White smoke billowed from the plane’s fuselage, then turned heavy and black, Neri said. Passengers on his flight remained calm and subdued, hoping for the best for those on the nearby plane.

“It’s a miracle,” Neri said of the fact that more people weren't killed.

As for the couple’s flight, it all seemed to matter not at all with the tragedy’s perspective so close at hand.

“A day delay?” Neri said. “It could be so much worse.”

ALSO:

Asiana Airlines plane may have hit sea wall before crash

SF plane crash: 10 in critical condition at S.F. General Hospital

Audio from moments after San Francisco crash: 'We see people'

lee romney@latimes.com

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