The images of the scorched airplane in a pile of rubble are grim — but all 21 people on a private plane walked away unharmed from the crash near Houston on Tuesday.
“This is a good day,” Sgt. Stephen Woodard of the Texas Department of Public Safety told reporters on Tuesday near the site of the crash. “No one is deceased and man that is an awesome feeling for us right now as first responders.”
The McDonnell Douglas MD-87 plane was on its way from the Houston Executive Airport in Brookshire to Boston shortly after 10 a.m. local time, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. It was carrying 18 passengers and 3 crew when it traveled about 500 feet on the runway to take off before rolling through a fence, crashing and burning in a green pasture.
Woodard said that all passengers, among them a 10-year-old child, survived the crash and were able to extract themselves from the burning vessel. “We can celebrate today,” he added.
It is not yet clear why the plane crashed, and the National Transportation Safety Board said it would be launching a team to investigate Tuesday’s incident.
Following the crash, only one passenger reported a minor injury of back pain, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said in a statement.
“The information we have at this time indicates that the plane did not attain altitude at the end of the runway and went across Morton Road, coming to a rest in the field just north of the airport, where it caught on fire,” he said.
The passengers were headed to Boston to see the Houston Astros play the Red Sox in Game 4 of Major League Baseball’s American League Championship Series, Waller County Sheriff Troy Guidry told Reuters.
Many on social media hailed the incident as a “miracle” and exclaimed their disbelief at the full survival rate.
Timothy Gibson, director of Waller-Harris Emergency Services, told reporters at the scene that extinguishing the fire had taken some time but that he was relieved all passengers had safely self-extricated, describing them as “stunned.”
“Any time you have a plane that doesn’t make a landing on the runway like it should, we’re always expecting the worst but hoping for the best,” Gibson said. “Today we absolutely, positively got the best outcome we could hope for.”