JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Moments after a chartered Miami Air Boeing 737 made a hard landing at NAS Jacksonville Friday night and skidded into the St. Johns River, passengers began to evacuate onto the wings of the plain and wait for help.
"We noticed something was wrong when (the plane) wasn’t slowing down, but that still didn’t’ give time for anyone to brace themselves," passenger Darwing Silva said. "The last thing we expected was the impact."
Silva felt the plane hit the water. He was one of nearly two dozen people hospitalized overnight and released Saturday.
After getting out, Silva shared dramatic cellphone video he shot of the rescue efforts while standing on the wing waiting for help. It shows the rain and lightning at the time, one man holding a baby and at least one passenger not wearing a life jacket.
A Texas man and his father returning from a work trip to Guantanamo Bay were also on the flight that made a hard landing at NAS Jacksonville and skidded into the St. Johns River.
Tyler Hall said he didn’t hear anything from the pilot but everyone could clearly tell something was wrong because the plane wasn’t slowing down on the runway. He braced himself.
"When we were coming in, it felt like we were coming a little fast and then hit the runway. It felt like we skipped, and it was like we never slowed down. We continued going and we were running out of runway," Hall said. "When we got close to the end, I felt like we were probably not going to have a good ending."
Once the plane landed in the St. Johns River, Hall said water came through the roof of the cabin and he was soaked.
As people began evacuating the plane, Hall noticed paramedics rushing through the aisle to help a man who was injured.
"There was a bunch of people in the aisle. They said, 'Hey there’s a medic coming through.' They obliged, let the medic and it turns out the (wounded) guy was actually my father."
Once he got off the plane, Hall checked on his father.
"Once we got everybody out, I poked my head back in and just asked and said, 'Hey, there was an older gentleman that was sitting right there in 13F, and I was just checking to see if he was alright,'" Hall said. "Someone said, 'Yeah, he’s helping get people off.'"
Hall said his father had a laceration on his forehead but he is home and doing well. Hall made it back home to his pregnant wife and son in Texas one day late, but safe and full of appreciation for his fellow passengers.
He said a plane full of strangers instantly became a team with a mission: to make sure everyone got off safely.
“What could have been a tragedy turned out to be an absolute coming together of a bunch of fine folk," Hall said. He feels blessed to have been surrounded by a selfless group of people who helped him get back home to his family.