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Airline Disaster Close To Home

POSTED July 10, 2013 12:24 a.m.

Oakdale resident Barbara Findlay nearly had a front row seat to the tragic crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday.

Returning from a trip to Colorado to see relatives, Findlay shared that she was in San Francisco on July 6 and was shuttled to a couple of different planes there, as the first one she was scheduled to fly in had some type of equipment issue and the passengers were put on another plane for their flight to Sacramento. The change delayed the flight slightly, and it was while her new plane was getting ready to taxi down the runway that Findlay – from her window seat – saw the ill-fated flight of the Boeing 777 coming in low across the San Francisco Bay.

“I thought it was coming in really low, I know they do fly low over the water but it looked too low to me,” she said on Sunday, remembering the scene.

She said as she watched out the window, the tail of the plane appeared to strike the water, as it created “a type of rooster tail” effect, similar to the wake splashed up by a jet skier or motorboat.

“Then I saw the wing start to tip toward the side,” Findlay said.

It was about that time that the jet passed behind the plane she was in and she lost sight of it.

Uncertain she saw what she thought she did, Findlay said she got the attention of a flight attendant and related the information, adding that she was afraid the plane might have crashed.

As their own flight took off, Findlay said they didn’t have access to information but learned later, on arrival in Sacramento, that the plane had in fact crashed. The plane Findlay was on was likely one of the last to leave San Francisco on schedule before airport operations were scaled back due to the crash and subsequent rescue effort.

Two teenage girls died and numerous other passengers had a variety of injuries, though officials said a surprisingly small number were considered critical. There were a total of 307 passengers on board the flight that originated in China and made a stop in Seoul prior to departing for the U.S.

Findlay said she was shaken when hearing the news and her heart goes out to all those affected by the tragedy.

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