NEW: LaGuardia Airport's Runway 13 reopens after plane removed
Passenger: Airplane skidded for about 20 seconds before stopping feet from water
Fire department reports 24 non-life-threatening injuries, three headed to area hospitals
A runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport reopened Friday morning, a day after a Delta Air Lines plane skidded off it before halting near the icy waters of Flushing Bay.
Runway 13 remained closed until the plane could be removed and brought into a hangar. It reopened at 10:30 a.m. ET Friday, according to Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The Delta plane slid off the runway Thursday morning, with its nose busting through a fence before skidding to a halt mere feet from frigid waters.
Delta Flight 1086 briefly circled New York due to issues with snow and ice before touching down shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday, passenger Jared Faellaci told CNN. Almost as soon as it did, those aboard realized something was wrong – the aircraft’s wheels seemed to have little to no traction, sliding for about 20 seconds.
“You didn’t feel the wheels take,” Faellaci said. Then it was a matter of “where we are going to end up,” he said.
About 4,500 to 5,000 feet down Runway 13, the MD-88 veered to the left and mercifully stopped on a small embankment.
A little farther, and the plane – with 127 passengers and five crew members – would have been in Flushing Bay rather than on the airport’s snow-covered ground.
Contrary to what Delta said in a statement, the aircraft’s slides did not deploy, according to Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye. Still, with help from first responders, everyone was able to get off and onto buses that took them to LaGuardia’s Delta terminal.
Video showed passengers exiting the plane into the subfreezing temperatures as emergency vehicles converged on the area.
Twenty-four people suffered injuries that were non-life threatening. Three of those were transported to nearby hospitals, the New York City Fire Department tweeted.
Faellaci said he was thankful for the plane’s crew, first responders and God that it wasn’t much worse.
“It was cause for a moment of prayer and a moment of reflection, as people were scared,” he said. “The pilot did a phenomenal job.”
Passenger: Some were calm, others were frantic
The plane left a relatively balmy Atlanta shortly after 9 a.m.
LaGuardia was dealing with snow and freezing fog as the flight approached its destination about two hours later.
Before touching down, the plane’s pilot said weather problems could cause a delay. Still, little prepared passengers for what happened. Faellaci said he was reminded of the U.S. Airways plane that landed in the Hudson River in 2009. All 155 people aboard that flight – heading from LaGuardia to Charlotte, North Carolina – famously survived thanks to the skills of pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.
The landing of Delta Flight 1086 was terrifying for many.
“There were people that were calm, there were people that were praying, there were people that obviously were frantic, there were people that were crying,” Faellaci said.
Jihad Lateef, another passenger, was traveling with his brother.
“When the plane landed it was like me falling off of the top bunk – didn’t really know what was going on – I just felt a hit, boom,” he told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “I just prayed.”
The Port Authority chief said plows had cleared the runway minutes before Flight 1086 touched down and that two other landing pilots had reported “good braking” action on Runway 13. Still, that doesn’t mean the pilot did anything wrong.
“I think the pilot did everything he could to slow the aircraft down,” Foye said. “Obviously, the pilot and the co-pilot’s efforts were reflected in the fact there were only minor injuries.”
After the plane stopped, emotions ratcheted down some but not entirely. Faellaci said there was some “panic and shoving your way to the front” to get off, though “for the most part it was very orderly.”
Passengers spent a few minutes standing in the snow – carrying little more than their wallets and phones – before buses took them into the warmth and comfort of the terminal.
Four minutes after the plane landed, all of LaGuardia Airport shut down to air traffic. One of its two runways – the one not involved in the incident – reopened a few hours later.
CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report.