A Portland, Oregon family of six and a Gresham, Oregon father and business owner were among the survivors of a fiery plane crash Tuesday afternoon in Mexico.
Portland resident Donald Hudson, his wife and four children were wrapping up a paradise of a vacation and making their way back home on Aeromexico Flight 2431 when it crashed in stormy conditions shortly after take-off in Durango.
Jose Luis Corral was on the same flight, expecting to return to his family and Sandy, Oregon tortilla business, La Milpa Mexican Foods, after visiting family in Mexico for a week.
Cellphone video captured at the scene after the crash shows people fleeing and screaming as the plane is engulfed in flames behind them.
“We had a premonition before takeoff that it was a little bit too rough weather to be taking off properly,” Hudson said by phone from Mexico Wednesday afternoon.
He figures they only made it a few dozen feet off the ground before they bounced, hitting the ground and jerking back up a few times before the plane hit solidly with a loud bang.
“We bounced another half a dozen times as we were power-sliding through the dark, taking out trees, bushes the whole way,” Hudson said. “As soon as it came to a stop I saw a flame blow through… and engulf at least two or three people.”
Amazingly, Hudson and his children, ages 26, 7, 5, and 3, were all OK. Hudson’s wife, Dr. Colleen McCormick, suffered a broken elbow and nose as well a cut on her face and a concussion. McCormick is a cancer surgeon with Legacy Health.
“For one of us to survive a plane crash is pretty stinking amazing, but for all six of us to survive, relatively unharmed — yeah, I’m feeling pretty fortunate,” Hudson said.
Corral’s daughter, Vanessa Corral, has spoken to her father briefly a few times since the crash, and was able to see her dad wearing a neck brace in an online video interview he did with CNN.
“He was just saying that he was telling the people around him that nothing’s going to happen, nothing’s going to happen, that the pilot will have everything under control,” said Vanessa Corral, translating the Spanish interview.
“He called me right after it happened, after he escaped from the plane,” she added. “He sounded shocked, scared. I was just really scared because I was imagining my dad being in there, and what he was thinking and what everyone was thinking.”
Both Corral and the Hudson family are expected to arrive at PDX Thursday night.
Hudson thought to grab his carry-on bag with all their passports before escaping down the emergency slide on the back of the plane.
Corral lost his passport and had to scramble to secure proper documentation to get back to the United States.
While Hudson is overjoyed that his family survived, he angrily questions why the pilot took off in intense wind, rain and hail.
“Why the (expletive) were we allowed to take off? Who gave that order that it was OK to take off in weather like that?” Hudson asked.
He said flying will never be the same again and he has a new appreciation for life after the traumatizing ordeal.
Vanessa Corral can’t wait to see her father.
“I’m just really relieved that he’s OK and nobody died, it’s honestly a miracle,” she said.