WATCH: JetBlue passengers brace for landing after engine explodes and cabin fills with smoke
Four people were injured Thursday when a Jet Blue plane had a mid-air malfunction and was forced down, even as the cabin filled with smoke and passengers wept and prayed.
“I’m just happy to be alive,” said passenger Jarrod West to CNN. West and his black chihuahua made it off the plane unscathed, sliding down the emergency exit ramp at the Long Beach, California Airport together. “I don’t think I’ll be mean to anybody ever again.”
Jet Blue Flight 1416 left Long Beach Airport for Austin, Texas and was airborne for about 25 minutes, flying over the ocean when passengers heard a loud popping sound and saw the jet’s right-side engine disappear in a fireball.
“Our right engine exploded and our cabin filled with smoke,” posted Twilight actor Jackson Rathbone to the social medium Twitter.
The white smoke became so thick that the 147 passengers reportedly couldn’t see the people sitting right next to them. Flight attendants quickly gave out oxygen masks by hand because they did not deploy from the ceiling.
Pilots pulled the plane into a steep right turn to direct the plane back to the airport. Passengers reported that as they flew back over land, the jet began to rattle and shake and people began to cry and pray.
“Everyone was crying,” passenger Dean Delbaugh told CNN. “I thought this was it.”
Flight attendants instructed passengers to prepare for a potentially hard landing.
West said, “The flight attendants were yelling ‘brace, brace’ and they kept repeating it and repeating it on the top of their lungs.”
However, he recounted, the pilot managed to bring the plane down as gently as a normal landing.
“He put it on the numbers. He did good,” West said. “He came by afterwards and said ‘hello’ to everybody. All of us were hugging him and saying ‘thank you.'”
Long Beach Fire Department spokesperson Jake Heflin told CBS Los Angeles that four passengers were treated and evaluated by paramedics at the scene. One person was experiencing shortness of breath and was taken to the hospital.
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