Continental Flight 1713 Crash Location39.774444 -104.895833
BOISE -- Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the deadly Continental Flight 1713 crash. The flight was bound from Denver's Stapleton International Airport to Boise.
When the flight crashed on November 15th 1987, it killed 28 of the 82 people on board, including the pilot and co-pilot.
The McDonnell-Douglas DC-9 sat in a snowstorm on the runway at Stapleton for 27 minutes before taking off. In that time, the wings of the plane accumulated ice. National Transportation Safety Board Investigators later concluded that caused the wings to fail as the plane attempted to take off.
The plane skidded out of control for about a quarter of a mile before sliding off the runway, flipping on its back, and breaking into three pieces. The crash left a large crater just off the runway at Stapleton.
'It's a miracle anyone walked away from that plane,'' Salvation Army Major George Church told the AP in 1987. ''And it's a miracle that it didn't catch on fire.''
Rescue crews pumped heat into the plane's fuselage and ran IV lines to survivors still inside the wreckage while they worked to pull them from the plane.
"I remember thinking, 'I'm about to die! This is it!' And then I wondered what's it going to feel like," Dr. Fred Helpenstell of Nampa told the Associated Press.
Helpenstell says he blacked out for a period of time. When he came to he was trapped inside the plane. "I became aware that we made it all right and I had all my arms and legs working, and no back or neck pain," said Helpenstell. "But then it dawned on me, I made it this far but now I am going to burn to death and that was very unappealing."
Helpenstell was eventually pulled from the plane by two firefighters.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that the pilot neglected to de-ice the wings for a second time. The pilot was not authorized to land that type of aircraft in that type of condition. The co-pilot on the flight had never flown that aircraft type in snow, and had less than 26 hours of total experience with a DC-9.
After the crash, Continental Airlines instituted changes in procedure to boost experience levels of pilots.
Many of those killed on the flight were from the greater Boise area, including 35-year-old Nick Ysursa. The football field at Bishop Kelly High School was named in Ysursa's honor after the crash. An infant was also among those killed.
A Melba High School FFA group was also on board. The AP reports FFA member Janine Legerwood, 17, died in the crash along with the wife of the Melba FFA chapter adviser Tami Daniel.
"I just thank God for everything," said Patrick Lovelady who was one of the FFA members on the plane who survived.
Lovelady told reporters after the crash that he and his friends had been joking about the plane crashing before takeoff. "Jeff said well I hope we don't because no one ever lives through those things. But there was some of us that did, luckily I was one of them."
Among the 54 survivors on board, many suffered injuries. Twenty-five passengers had minor injuries, and another 28 suffered major injuries - including paralysis.