JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three children were among nearly two dozen patients taken to area hospitals overnight after a Boeing 737 slid off a Naval Air Station Jacksonville runway into the St. Johns River, News4Jax has learned.
One of those children was admitted to Wolfson Children’s Hospital but was released Saturday after being treated, hospital officials said. NAS Jacksonville commanding officer Capt. Mike Connor said that child was a 3-month-old baby who was kept overnight for observation.
“We had a really hard landing and then the plane bounced and screeched and bounced some more to the right and then it lifted to the left. And then it sort of swerved and then it came to a complete crash stop,” passenger Cheryl Bormann said, describing the frightening landing. “We climbed out onto the wing. We were in water. We couldn’t tell where we were -- whether it was a river or ocean. There was rain coming down. There was lightning and thunder. We stood on that wing for a significant period of time. The rescue folks eventually inflated a life raft that was on the plane and we began climbing into it.”
The chartered Boeing 737 carried 143 people from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to NAS Jacksonville.
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“In general, most of the injuries were musculoskeletal injuries, things like whiplash, things you would expect in a car crash with achiness or soreness,” OPMC Emergency Room Dr. Jennifer Chapman said.
According to spokespeople with each hospital:
- 4 patients were taken to Orange Park Medical Center
- 3 were taken to Park West
- 3 were transported to UF Health
- 4 were taken to Memorial Hospital
- 3 were transported to St. Vincent’s Medical Center
- 3 were taken to Baptist
- 3 children were taken to Wolfson Children's Hospital
All of those patients had been released by Saturday morning, hospital officials confirmed.
"I want to thank the local community, thank first responders (and) the city of Jacksonville for the amazing support as well as all the community organizations -- Red Cross -- that have come out and supported the Navy and the passengers," Connor said.
The Red Cross sent 43 workers and volunteers to help everyone involved -- passengers, crew and first responders -- with water, food, snacks, blankets, cots, clothing and other basic needs, including mental health counseling.
The Navy provided shelter to people who needed a place to stay for the night.
We had a miracle last night in Jacksonville. We had a 737 go down with passengers and no fatalities. I’m a grateful for our fire , police, hospitals and all that are part of the team. God works through people. Works through us.— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) May 5, 2019
Pamair Ahmad’s father was one of the passengers treated at an area hospital.
“I think he was on a business trip. He did seem calm, which was relieving a little bit. It was really chaotic. You could tell. He said he hit his head a little bit against the wall on the plane, but other than that, they did do a couple of scans on him to make sure he was good,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad said he is extremely thankful his dad is alive and well.
“He’s never allowed to leave the house,” Ahmad said. “He can stay home forever.”
NAS Jacksonville officials said they still haven't been able to retrieve pets from the cargo hold of the plane. A Navy statement early Saturday said safety issues have prevented rescuers from retrieving the animals on board
The statement said, "Our hearts and prayers go out to those pet owners."
News4Jax has learned that three pets are presumed dead but it's possible one that was in the cabin with the passengers survived.
The plane remains stuck in shallow water.
A "Go Team" of 16 investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board was dispatched to determine what happened. The first of the team members arrived Saturday to begin the investigation.