The smoke in the cabin had gotten blacker and thicker, and people were choking, desperate to get off.Several survivors told WCPO that the passengers had stayed calm through the descent.
CINCINNATI – As the Air Canada DC-9 flew over Louisville, Kentucky, a life-or-death drama was beginning.
Dinner had just been served, and the passengers – including Lisa Ehrich and her husband of Denton, Texas, and Graham Wright, Jeffrey Biteen and Ray Chalifoux of Canada, were relaxing.
Twenty-three passengers - half of the people on board – died.
Investigators said some couldn't find the exits in the smoky darkness. They got it down as fast as they did and we were plain lucky."Once Wright got out, he said, he ran to the edge of the tarmac, where others gathered.
Cameron couldn't find the airport at first, but Karam calmly talked him down. There were 46 lives on the line, and the only thing that was going to save them was getting them on the ground ASAP, before the thickening smoke or the fire spreading behind the cabin walls killed them.
Thirteen minutes after he began the descent, Cameron landed the plane safely with no time to spare.Fire crews doused him with foam to bring him to, and he managed to drop out the window.Cameron gave credit to Karam for saving so many lives."We were steered to the airport by the most capable air traffic control controller whose voice I have ever heard," said Cameron, who had nearly 13,000 flight hours. We have people working at our facility that I admire very much.He wasn't prepared for such a disturbing sight.He said bodies were "burnt to a crisp" in the seats."Looked like mannequins ..." he said.Karam, though, didn't want to be singled out as a hero."Several other people were working on that shift," he said at a news conference. I'm here because I was put in that position when the flight arrived.