'Hero' Crew Member: SF Evacuation Began Badly

Slides inflated inside, pinning flight attendants down

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 8, 2013 7:02 AM CDT | Updated Jul 8, 2013 7:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – A 20-year Asiana veteran is the first crew member of the doomed Flight 214 to speak, and according to Lee Yoon-hye, the evacuation did not begin smoothly. But first came the hard landing, which the cabin manager describes as "a bang ... afterward, there was another shock and the plane swayed to the right and to the left." An evacuation was ordered, but she says two of the plane's slides inflated inside the cabin instead of outside, pinning two flight attendants to the floor. One appeared to be choking beneath the slide's weight; the two had to be rescued by crew members who used axes to deflate the slides.

One flight attendant slid to safety with a child on her back; one of the pilots helped a hurt flight attendant off the plane. The AP notes that police officers on the scene threw knives up to crew members inside the burning wreckage so they could cut away passengers' seat belts. USA Today reports that flight attendants undergo yearly training on evacuations, and a rep for their professional association calls it "incredible to see what these flight attendants were able to accomplish—with half the doors." As for Lee, she was apparently the last person to leave the plane, and continued helping passengers and putting out fires even though she had a broken tailbone; the city's fire chief calls her a "hero."

Fire crews work the crash site of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Saturday, July 6, 2013.
Fire crews work the crash site of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Saturday, July 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, John Green)
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