Two of the passengers aboard a Jamaica-bound American Airlines flight that overshot the runway in Kingston on Tuesday said normal turbulence began about 30 minutes before landing.
As the plane neared Norman Manley International Airport, Gary Mouttet, 45, a Coral Gables businessman traveling to Jamaica for a quick trip, was in the bathroom when a crew member pounded on the door, ordering him to return to his seat.
Mouttet said he sensed the plane was landing too high.
"I knew it was going to be a hard landing when the back wheel hit the ground," Mouttet said. "And then (the pilot) dropped the nose pretty hard. I think he realized the runway was running out on him."
As the reverse thrusters came on, Mouttet saw the terminal — which is at the end of the runway — glide by. He turned to Camille Chee-Awai, 46, also from Miami-Dade, and said: "Brace yourself. This is not going to be good."
Seconds later, the plane burst through a fence at the end of the runway, pounding into a ditch.
"I envisioned ending up in the ocean. If we would have ended up in the ocean, we would have drowned.
Once we came to a stop, I smelled gas. I smelled aviation fuel everywhere," Mouttet said.
Inside the plane it was pitch dark, the pair said. The plane appeared to have broken into three places, Chee-Awai said.
"There was a lot of confusion and a lot of panic. A lot of people were disoriented," she said. At first, they said, crew members couldn't open the doors. Finally, a door opened and people began exiting the plane down an inflatable slide. Seeing smoke and fearing an explosion, they ran in the gusty rain until they reached a road — and a bus pulling up.
Passengers, some injured, began clamoring onto the bus, which pulled up to the plane and began loading passengers as ambulances and police streamed to the wreck.
"It was extremely chaotic," he said.
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