Boy killed after plane skids off runway
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- A Southwest Airlines jet slid off the runway during a heavy snowstorm at Chicago's Midway Airport and crashed into two vehicles in a nearby intersection, killing a young boy.
Eleven other people, including three jet passengers with minor injuries, were taken to hospitals after Thursday's incident, said Chicago Fire Commissioner Cortez Trotter.
Flight 1248, which was arriving from Baltimore, Maryland, slid through a fence separating the runway from the intersection, said Wendy Abrams, a spokeswoman for Chicago's Department of Aviation. ( Watch footage from the scene -- 1:33)
Ninety-eight passengers and five crew members were aboard the plane.
The 6-year-old boy who died was in the car with his two younger brothers, including an infant, and his parents, said Deborah Song, spokeswoman for Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oaklawn.
Their vehicle was crushed under the nose and fuselage of the plane, said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. (Watch him describe victims and scene -- 2:22)
The mother, in her 30s, was in good condition; the father, in his 40s, was in serious condition; the 4-year-old middle son was in fair condition; and the infant was in serious condition, Song said.
Four people in the second car, which was under a wing of the Boeing 737-700 jet, were in serious but stable condition.
In addition, three passengers from the plane were in good condition, said Trotter, quoting paramedics.
Passenger: 'It was really bumpy'
It had been snowing all day in Chicago and visibility was poor at the time of the landing.
The National Weather Service had issued a heavy snow warning in the city and surrounding area.
There were approximately 8 inches of snow on the ground by early evening, and winds were blowing at between 13 mph and 18 mph.
Chicago's acting commissioner of aviation, Pat Harney, said airport runways had been salted and cleared throughout the day, but said he didn't know when the runway where the jet landed was last serviced.
Stanley Den, who was on the plane, said he noticed the plane wasn't slowing down during the landing.
"I couldn't really tell if we were on the runway or the grass. It was really bumpy," Den said. "We were kind of going for a while until the impact when we hit, maybe I guess, a barrier fence, went through that and into the middle of the street with cars and stuff riding past us."
FAA official: Nose gear collapsed
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said there were no indications of maintenance problems with the plane, and that it underwent a routine check Wednesday in Phoenix.
"All indications are that the aircraft was cleared to land properly," Kelly said. He said that despite the heavy snow and light winds, there was "plenty of visibility."
"We've been operating at Chicago-Midway for 20 years. It's a great airport, and we've never had any problem whatsoever," he said.
The pilot of the jet has been with Southwest 10 years, Kelly said, and the co-pilot about three years. To his knowledge, the plane had been properly cleared to land on the 6,500-foot runway, he said.
Southwest Flight 1248 left Baltimore around 5 p.m. ET and tried to land shortly after 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET).
There was no definitive cause given for the accident, but Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said the plane's nose gear collapsed at some point after it landed.
Resident: Two loud booms
Amanda Doherty lives near the airport and said she went to the scene shortly after the crash and saw a car pinned under the airplane with its headlights still on. ( Watch witness account -- :27)
A bartender at a pub down the street from the accident said he heard two loud booms when the plane crashed into the intersection.
"We thought it was an automobile accident and we looked out the window and we saw the tail section of a Southwest airliner laying across the street, on Central Avenue," said Tom Fitzgerald, adding that he saw passengers exiting the rear of the plane. "People were running and ambulances were coming down the street."
Video from the scene showed at least 10 ambulances at the scene and dozens of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles converging on the intersection. The plane's fuselage was bent and its nose was on the ground.
Midway, which lies in a dense residential and commercial district of the city, west of downtown, was closed almost immediately and was not set to reopen until early Friday morning, the FAA said.
The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating the crash. Commissioner Trotter said the plane would remain in the intersection until the NTSB finished its investigation.
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