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Passenger speaks about moment plane skid off runway into St. Johns River

Darwing Silva was 1 of 143 passengers who was aboard plane

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of 143 passengers who was aboard the Boeing 737 that overran the runway at the Jacksonville Air Station late Friday said he knew something was wrong as soon as the plane landed and didn't seem to be slowing down.

"It seems like a miracle," Darwing Silva said. "I mean, you never expect to be in that situation."

Cellphone video that Silva shot shows the moments after the plane came to a crashing stop in the St. Johns River.

"Turbulence started, rumbling started and then it was a small thud, like a small bump, and then it was a massive impact," Silva said.

Silva was thrown from his seat.

"I was wearing my seat belt, but I went forward and hit my head what I believe was the top compartment," Silva said.

The aircraft filled with water. Silva said he was the first to open the emergency exit, putting on his life vest before helping people, some injured onto the wing of the plane.

"A couple guys had bloody noses. I saw somebody favoring their arm," Silva said.

Passengers, even some with small children, can be seen in the video filing into a yellow life raft as paramedics worked to get everyone off the aircraft safely.

"We got the women and children first on to the raft. They tied the hose to the raft and the firefighters pulled the raft to shore," Silva said.

Local 10 News has learned the flight took off from the U.S military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with 136 passengers and 7 crew members. The charter, run by Miami Air International, was on its way to the the Jacksonville Air Station when, investigators said, it approached the landing strip during a thunderstorm.

"But the moment we landed, it never slowed down," Silva said.

Silva, thinking of his family and two young boys, knew he would do whatever it took to make it back home to them safely.

"I think it could've been a lot worse, and it just feels like it was a miracle," Silva said.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating, but they said it's likely the plane hydroplaned off the runway during those thunderstorms. Twenty-one people were transported to the hospital. Fortunately, none of their injuries were critical.


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