- Posted February 18, 2010 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Austin plane crash
Austin plane crash- fifteen seconds later
- nsaidi, CNN iReport producer
I was driving down Highway 183 when I saw a small sport-type aircraft roll 90 degrees and make a course for a building. At first glance, I couldn't believe it, and as I saw the plane impact I knew it wasn't just an RC plane I was seeing from a strange perspective. I jumped on the shoulder of the road, speeding, and pulled over, my only instinct was to put the training I learned in the Army to use. A lot of people were slowing down but none were stopping yet. I pulled out the phone and was able to snap one picture as the explosion cleared and pieces of the plane and the building were still flying in the airI didn't even turn the car off, just jumped out without even closing the door, and ran as hard as I could after jumping over the Jersey barrier between the highway and the embankment.
Upon getting up to the crash site, I saw two men, one was on his phone already, and I ran towards the building which was already on fire with black smoke pouring out. No one was running out of the building yet, and after snapping the first two pictures, I put the iPhone away and started looking for anyone who may have been down on the ground after being thrown from or falling from the building; it was the only thing my instincts would let me do as the training I had in the Army just took over. I can't even remember feeling the heat from the fire, just that I heard my heart pounding in my ears. Pieces of plane fuselage were on fire by my feet and insulation batting was floating in the air, burning. Pieces of the building, glass, and what I can only guess were pieces of plane began to fall and crash down within ten feet of where I was; standing around looking for any survivors started to become a more dangerous endeavor. I began to move back from the fire, and the first Austin Police Department officer was just getting on-scene. A man from the Department of Homeland Security asked if I witnessed what happened and after giving him my driver's license I went back to my car. It was still idling, door open, on the side of 183. Grabbing the keys and my pack of cigarettes, I ran back towards the scene as the other first responders arrived. I was led to an agent with the FBI, where I started telling him what you just read here.
Having served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, I saw things on fire, and I saw explosions, but at the end of the day, nothing compares to seeing it happen right in front of you in your own hometown. I never expected that on my doorstep, someone could be so pissed off that they would be willing to step into an airplane and use to to try to kill other Americans, people just going about their day, getting lunch plans together, doing the business they're paid to do. I cannot claim to have any idea what it was like to be in Manhattan in September of 2001, but seeing this, it was a glimpse into the chaos, anger, frustration and oblivion that I imagine New Yorkers stared into the face of eight and a half years ago. And I hope that I never see it again.