In Asiana crash, a husband's worst nightmare

Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:37am EDT
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By Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Seconds after the July 6 crash of an Asiana Airlines flight at San Francisco airport, passenger Hyun Seob Oh witnessed an unimaginable horror: an emergency escape slide exploded inside the cabin, enveloping his wife, Asiana flight attendant Sook Young Hyun.

He could see her legs jutting out from the slide at an odd angle, wriggling slightly, as he and other passengers rushed to help. But there was nothing to cut the slide away with, no immediate means to free her.

"I was so scared," he recalls. "She could die."

His wife of four years is hospitalized, with burns, pneumonia from smoke inhalation, and fractures in her spine. Unconscious for two days, Hyun will remain hospitalized for several more weeks, 31-year-old Oh said in interviews. While she has taken her first few halting steps, recovery is expected to be slow and painful.

Although the Asiana crash was miraculous in many ways, sparing the lives of more than 300 on board the flight, Hyun is one of a group of critically injured passengers experiencing repercussions that will extend for months, perhaps years.

The Asiana plane missed the San Francisco runway, losing its tail and landing gear as it skidded down the runway.

Three people died and two passengers remain in critical condition in San Francisco General Hospital.

Even for passengers who experienced few or no physical injuries, mental trauma could endure indefinitely, medical professionals say. That's especially true for a case like Oh's.   Continued...

Hyun Seob Oh poses for Reuters in San Francisco, California July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Sarah McBride