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Jet Skids Off Runway in L.A., Stops Yards from Gas Station

By Hugo Martin

and Johnathan Briggs
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- LOS ANGELES

A Southwest Airlines jet carrying 137 passengers and five crew members careened off a Burbank Airport runway Sunday night, skidding to a stop on an adjacent street where it hit a car. Three people were slightly injured.

The jet, a 737 arriving from Las Vegas, was landing at about 6:11 p.m. PST when it slid off the wet pavement, broke through a barrier at the end of the runway and came to a stop on Hollywood Way a few yards from a gas station.

The pilot suffered cuts to his scalp and was taken to a nearby hospital where he was listed in fair condition. Two passengers were also transported to the hospital complaining of back pains. There were also listed in fair condition.

As the plane skidded across Hollywood Way, it struck a Ford Taurus, carrying a woman and an infant. But officials said neither were injured.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said it was too soon to determine the cause of the accident, but a spokesman said it appeared the pilot overshot the runway.

“It’s too early to tell (the cause) except perhaps that he landed too long,” said FAA spokesman Louis Diaz.

Victor Gill, director of public and community affairs for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena airport about 15 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, said the airport never shut down following the accident.

Gill said the National Transportation Safety Board has requested the plane remain on Hollywood Way until the investigation is completed.

Several passengers and witnesses said the plane appeared to approach the runway too steep and too fast.

“We were screaming down the tarmac,” said passenger Kevin McCoy, a Los Angeles area business executive who was returning from a weekend vacation in Las Vegas with his wife. “When we hit the barriers, it was explosive.”

Although the landing was frightening, passengers said no one on board panicked as the plane came to a stop and the crew began evacuation.

“I doubt there’s a single person on this plane that doesn’t feel like the luckiest person in the world,” said McCoy.

The plane came to a rest only a few yards from the gas station, with twisted lengths of the runway’s barrier sticking out of the plane’s engines.