Webster Groves woman survived '82 plane crash

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. - A Webster Groves woman survived a plane crash in Malaga, Spain in September 1982.

Nora Leritz was a 24-year-old graduate student on vacation at the time of crash.

She shared her survival story with NewsChannel 5 in 2005.

Leritz boarded the Spantax DC-10 for a nonstop flight from Madrid to New York. But the plane was half empty. The airline stopped in Malaga to pick up a tour and fill up the seats.

"I didn't think I was going to die and I didn't think anybody was going to die," she said.

Leritz was sitting in the 22nd row over the wing.

The plane began to vibrate during takeoff. When the plane came down, it went across a double lane highway, hit a truck, three cars, and a greenhouse. The plane came to rest in a cornfield. That's when the panic set in.

"I could see that there was a fire out on the wing and I decided to go over the seats," Leritz said. "I climbed over 22 rows of seats and exited at the front of the plane before the chutes had some out. I jumped out the door."

There were 393 people on board the plane, many of whom jumped out as well. Forty-eight people died, most because of the ensuing fire.

It was later learned a problem with the right wheel of the nose gear caused the vibrations. The pilot abandoned takeoff because he believed the aircraft would be uncontrollable in flight.


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