This miracle happened right on the runway.
A Delta Airlines flight skidded in the snow while landing at LaGuardia Airport, then slammed through a chain-link fence before stopping perilously close to a splashdown in icy Flushing Bay.
More than two dozen injuries were reported Thursday morning among the five crew members and 127 passengers — which included two small children, New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell and reality show personality Jaime Primak Sullivan.
“I knew I shoulda stayed my ass at home,” Donnell wrote on Instagram, where he posted two photos of the crash’s snowy and scary aftermath.
Passenger Isamel Lateef, who had a window seat aboard Delta Flight 1086 from Atlanta, was certain the commercial airliner was headed for the bay once the plane jerked suddenly during touchdown.
“I saw us quickly approaching the water,” recalled Lateef, 29, of Greensboro, N.C. “I’m thinking, ‘Get ready to swim.’ It was survival mode. (The plane) wobbled a lot, a lot. We’re grateful we didn’t get in the water.”
There was no indication of impending terror when the MD-88 plane approached Runway 13 at 11:09 a.m. through heavy windblown snow with visibility at less than a quarter of a mile.
Passenger Mark Klafter, 48, said he felt like the plane was coming in “way too fast” as they arrived at the Queens airport.
Flight 1086 then skidded before coming to a halt on a raised berm installed in 2005.
Officials said the plane made it between 4,500 to 5,000 feet down the recently plowed 7,000-foot runway before it veered to the left.
“The stop wasn’t hard,” said the Atlanta resident. “The bouncing around was…My hands were a little shaky for sure. I could see the water was right there.
“When we were bouncing through the grass, my first thought was ‘I hope it stops soon.’”
Another passenger blamed the snow-slicked runway, saying the conditions were “so icy that the brakes weren’t going to take.”
The official cause of the crash was under investigation. The damaged plane remained lodged in the fence hours after the wreck.
Oxygen masks fell suddenly from the ceiling as panicked passengers rode out the wreck with white knuckles wrapped around their armrests.
Passengers watched in horror as the careening plane’s wing smacked the chain-link fence and broke.
“It was a big sound — ‘Boom!’” recalled passenger Jamal Taylor. “And then everything from the ceiling fell down, without anyone pulling them. There was a lot of ‘Ohhh!’ because we didn’t know what was going on.”
Nhquithan Taylor, 23, making his first trip to New York, said the whole thing happened in the blink of an eye.
“All I know was we were in the air, and then (the plane) was skiing,” he said. “It wasn’t really that bad, but it was an experience. Welcome to New York.”
The nose of the crippled plane, with the section beneath the cockpit torn away, came to rest over snow-covered banks and the whitecaps below.
“That was the jolt,” said a relieved Marques Zak, 31, of Atlanta. “I have flown a million miles, and I never expected this type of situation. The nose of the plane was right at the embankment.”
Broadway producer Michael Moritz, who brought the Tony Award-winning “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” to the Great White Way, watched the plane slide off the runway from LaGuardia’s AmEx Lounge.
“In my view, the plane made the landing, then lost control,” he tweeted to the Daily News. “(It) swerved off the runway.”
The plane fell silent once the aircraft finally stopped sliding, with a few children crying before passengers started to exit. The flight included a pair of “lap children” — kids under the age of 2 sharing a seat with an adult passenger.
Experts say LaGuardia is notorious for its relatively short runways and its proximity to the bay.
The National Transportation Safety Board, just one month after sending a team to investigate a fatal Metro-North crash, dispatched investigators Thursday to the airport.
Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye credited the pilot for his deft handling of the potentially lethal situation.
“I think the pilot did everything he could do to slow the airplane down,” said Foye, who added there was a brief fuel leak after the crash.
“Obviously, the pilot and co-pilot’s good efforts were reflected in the fact that there were only minor injuries.”
During a brief news conference, Foye said the 150-foot-wide runway was plowed minutes before the crash, with two previous planes landing on the same strip reporting “good braking action.”
Although the plane’s inflatable ramps didn’t work, the passengers were hustled to the ground without much trouble in about five minutes.
Some jumped from the right wing to the frozen ground, where members of the elite Port Authority Aircraft Rescue Firefighter Unit waited to catch them.
Dozens of fliers then trooped through the snow to a waiting shuttle bus — although two women climbed into an ambulance on the tarmac.
“My knee…My leg. It hurts bad,” said one of the injured duo as she was lifted into the ambulance.
The others were taken to the Delta terminal and examined by paramedics.
“We just crash landed at LGA. I’m terrified,” tweeted Sullivan, a blogger and star of the Bravo TV reality show “Jersey Belle.”
Six passengers were listed in stable condition at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital in Queens and Elmhurst Hospital with minor injuries, authorities said. In all, 28 people were injured.
The airport reopened a little more than three hours after the crash.
Passenger Sheila Mihalovits was among those reminded of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” when US Airways Flight 1549 made an extraordinary water landing in January 2009.
Captain Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger was at the controls when that plane took off from LaGuardia.
“I just want to thank the pilot for keeping the plane — us — off the water,” she said. “It happened so quickly. I felt the pilot was in control…it was a little bit scary.”
She said the passengers left the plane without their luggage or much else.
“I didn’t have time to pick up my stuff,” she said. “We left all of our belongings on the plane. We were just jumping off the wing.”
Last year, a Southwest Airlines jet veered into a grassy stretch off the LaGuardia runway when its nose landing gear collapsed after a hard landing. Sixteen people were injured.
The deadliest crash at the Queens airport came in March 1992 — 27 people were killed when a USAir flight crashed into Flushing Bay shortly after takeoff from the same runway as the Thursday crash. The NTSB blamed a botched deicing of the plane’s wings for that tragedy.
With News Wire Services
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