Skip to main content

Shock and survival: Asiana plane crash through the eyes of children

By Sara Sidner and Holly Yan, CNN
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We were all bouncing all over the place," 15-year-old Esther Jang says
  • Esther and her younger siblings called for their parents, who moaned in response
  • The family had to take different exits amid the chaos
  • "When we all reunited ... I was really glad, so I started crying," Joseph said.

San Francisco (CNN) -- After 10 long hours in the sky, the Jang children couldn't wait to get off the plane.

The Colorado siblings had just spent a month in Seoul, their first trip to South Korea. Their parents wanted them to get a taste of their heritage on their summer vacation.

But their summer vacation will now be remembered for something entirely different.

Joseph, Ester and Sarah were passengers on Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from Seoul to San Francisco.

Flight attendants hailed as heroes

China mourns air crash victims
New details emerge in plane crash
Asiana crash: Rescuing the survivors
NTSB: Plane flying too slow before crash

Seconds before landing Saturday, the Boeing 777 crashed onto a sea wall, severing its tail.

Plane crash investigation

The three were all near the back of the plane, which bore the brunt of the impact.

"During the time it was crashing, I thought it was all like a dream because I didn't know (if) it was actually happening," 13-year-old Joseph told CNN's Sara Sidner.

"We were all bouncing all over the place," 15-year-old Esther added. "I just remember there being dust everywhere. I was freaking out, and then it just stopped."

The seats in front of them collapsed across their knees. Luggage and debris littered the cabin.

"After everything stopped and then I realized I was alive, I looked over and I saw my brother and sister. They were both fine," Esther said. "And then I looked over at my mom and my dad, and they were both on the floor because their seats fell down."

Joseph tried calling out to his parents across the aisle. But he couldn't breathe.

Interactive: What happened with Asiana Flight 214?

'Get out any way you can'

"I got the wind knocked out of me ... I was just hoping I could get some air because it was really scary," Joseph said.

The parents eventually responded to their children's calls with moans. The siblings knew they were alive.

But there was no time to absorb what happened. The plane could catch fire at any moment.

"The flight attendants just said get out any way you can," 11-year-old Sarah said.

"Me and my brother were out before my dad, my sister and my mom were out. So I was wondering if they were out of the plane, or still in the plane, 'cause after a while the plane started ... having a fire."

The family was separated for more than an hour.

Did passengers ignore safety messages?

"When we all reunited ... I was really glad, so I started crying," Joseph said.

The entire family was injured, but none seriously. The three children and their father are all recovering at San Francisco General Hospital.

Joseph has a minor fracture in his back. Esther has a sprained foot and needs crutches. And Sarah has a fractured finger, heavily bandaged between her other pink fingernails.

"I describe this experience as I got really lucky," Joseph said. "We all got really lucky."

The family was supposed to board another flight to Denver. They still haven't made it home to Colorado yet.

So a nurse let the children use her computer to post messages on Facebook, letting their friends know they were OK.

Esther's post: "My life flashed before my eyes. I thank God that me and my family are safe."

Did pilot have enough 777 experience?

CNN's Sara Sidner reported from San Francisco; Holly Yan wrote from Atlanta.

Watch New Day weekdays at 6am-9am ET. For the latest on New Day click here

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Asiana Flight 214 crash
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Pilots botched the approach and landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco nearly a year ago, causing a crash that killed three people and injured 187 others, investigators concluded.
updated 2:09 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
The National Transportation Safety Board held a hearing to determine the cause of the 2013 Asiana Flight 214 plane crash.
updated 1:36 PM EST, Sun January 19, 2014
A group of passengers who were aboard an Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed has sued aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
updated 12:26 PM EDT, Sun October 20, 2013
The firefighter who accidentally ran over and killed a 16-year-old girl who survived the crash will not be charged in the case.
updated 6:29 AM EST, Wed February 26, 2014
The U.S. Department of Transportation fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to assist families following the crash of Asiana flight 214 in San Francisco in July.
updated 5:43 AM EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
The two teen girls were close friends, each looking forward to a summer trip to California to improve their English.
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
After 10 long hours in the sky, the Jang children couldn't wait to get off the plane.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Wed July 10, 2013
I didn't expect my 5-year-old daughter to first learn about airplane crashes while we were in the air.
updated 6:42 AM EDT, Fri July 12, 2013
Shortly after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco, passengers and witnesses pleaded with 911 responders to send help -- some frantically, some insistently.
Here's what we know about the crash landing, told through animation and graphics.
updated 10:29 AM EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
As a plume of black smoke billowed from Asiana Airlines flight 214 after it crash landed, images were captured of passengers collecting their carry-on items before evacuating.
updated 3:46 PM EDT, Wed July 10, 2013
Inside the cockpit of the Airbus A380 at Le Bourget airport on June 12, 2005.
Pilots will need more cockpit training to become fully certified first officers for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines.
updated 2:00 AM EDT, Wed July 10, 2013
Veteran flight attendant Lee Yoon Hye sensed something was awry as Flight 214 neared the San Francisco International Airport runway.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Wed July 10, 2013
As Asiana Airlines Flight 214 flew into San Francisco, the Boeing 777's 219 passengers didn't know that the man at the controls had never landed this kind of plane at this airport before.
updated 9:51 AM EDT, Mon July 8, 2013
"Look at that one -- look at how his nose is up in the air."
updated 8:41 PM EDT, Sun July 7, 2013
Of the 307 people on board, only two are confirmed dead.
updated 8:36 PM EDT, Sun July 7, 2013
Nearly three hours after the crash, David Eun walked through customs at San Francisco International Airport. By then, the adrenaline rush was subsiding enough that he could begin processing the enormity of it all.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri July 19, 2013
Photos from the scene show a trail of debris down the runway and people waiting for their loved ones.
updated 8:19 PM EDT, Sun July 7, 2013
Asiana Airlines had coped with a pair of deadly crashes over the past 20 years before a Boeing 777 crash landed in San Francisco and burst into flames on Saturday.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT