Cabin attendants hailed as heros

2013-07-09 09:00

Footage of Asiana plane wreckage

2013-07-08 09:37

The US National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the crash of Asiana flight 214. Two passengers died after the plane crashed on landing and caught fire. Watch. WATCH

 San Francisco - Cabin attendant Jiyeon Kim on ill-fated Asiana Airlines Flight 214 was hailed Monday for her role in helping passengers escape when the Boeing 777 crashed at San Francisco Airport.

"She was a hero," passenger Eugene Anthony Rah told The Wall Street Journal. "This tiny little girl was carrying people piggyback, running everywhere with tears running down her face. She was crying, but she was still so calm and helping people."

Cabin manager Lee Yoon-hye drew similar admiration for her calm efficiency in leading the evacuation of more than 300 passengers and crew from the jet in the chaotic moments after the crash.

She was the last one to leave the plane and played a major role in keeping the death toll down to just two fatalities, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanna Hayes-White said.

"She was so composed I thought she had come from the terminal," Hayes-White told reporters. "She wanted to make sure that everyone was off. ... She was a hero."

At a press conference, Lee said: "I wasn't really thinking, but my body started carrying out the steps needed for an evacuation. I was only thinking about rescuing the next passenger."

She was credited with fighting the fire that broke out on board, giving passengers crucial extra seconds to escape the wreckage.

"I was only thinking that I should put it out quickly. I didn't have time to feel that this fire was going to hurt me," Lee explained.

She was helped by pilots who used axes and knives to puncture an emergency chute that malfunctioned and inflated inside the plane.

The airport's emergency service responders were praised for rushing into the burning aircraft to extract passengers even as jet fuel gushed from the left wing.

San Francisco police officer Jim Cunningham rushed on board without any safety equipment because "it didn't look like they had enough people."

"I was just running back and forth trying to help people," he said Monday. "I didn't think about it. I just knew people were trapped in there. I just thought, 'I'm kind of a tough guy, I can hold my breath if there's a lot of smoke.'

Author: Andy Goldberg

Read more on:    asiana airlines  |  air crashes  |  travel international  |  flights

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