Mandy McLean was asleep in her seat aboard Asiana Flight 214 when she was jolted awake.
“I was unaware that anything was happening until the crash actually began … We weren’t given any warning that a crash was coming.”
The 26-year-old graduate student assumes she woke up when the tail of the Boeing 777 slammed into the runway.
“I just woke up to the plane completely shaking,” McLean, who is originally from western Newfoundland, told CBC News.
“The oxygen masks came down, and there [were] just things flying all over the place. I was really disoriented, had no idea where we were. I assumed we were still in the air and had hit something, and I was sure we were going to die.”
When the plane came to a stop, she says, “everyone was just in a bit of a panic.”
There were seats dislodged, and things inside the cabin had been tossed around. Some passengers were trying to calm others down.
When the doors opened, she and her boyfriend, Ryan, got off the plane “pretty quickly.”
Emergency vehicles were already at the plane. Others were en route.
McLean says she and her boyfriend were assessed by first responders and given cards to wear around their necks, signifying that their injuries were minor.
They were taken to the airport, cleared customs, and were sent to a waiting area for five or six hours.
Once there, McLean called her mother in Pasadena, N.L.
Her mom, Jessie McLean, was expecting a call — just not this one.
Immediately knew something was wrong
She said she knew something was wrong when she answered the phone.
“I started to cry,” the mother recalled.
The two spoke for a few minutes, before the connection cut off.
McLean phoned her mother back and related that she had only suffered minor injuries.
Jessie McLean drove home to tell her husband, Herb, what had happened.
“When I opened the door the TV is on, and Herb is sitting in the chair watching, and the plane crash is on the screen. And I point my finger and I say, ‘That plane, Herb …’ and he said, ‘Mandy is on it.’”
Herb had called his daughter as soon as he saw the news — just after she had spoken with her mother. He already knew she was OK.
In Pasadena, the McLeans talked about what they saw on television.
“It was just overwhelming,” Jessie McLean said. “We couldn’t believe our blessings.”
Taken to hospital
Hours after the crash, their daughter was transported to hospital in nearby Stanford, where she attends school.
Mandy McLean's boyfriend had a sprained foot. She had a few staples put in to close a cut on her head.
“It’s all so surreal, to be honest,” she said.
Two of the 307 passengers aboard Asiana Flight 214 died. An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the crash.
“It still hasn’t completely sunk in that the plane crashed, I don’t think,” McLean said.
She is currently finishing up her master’s degree in environmental earth system science at Stanford University. Her past research has already taken her as far afield as Norway and China.
She will board a plane again — within weeks, in fact, for a family wedding.
“I’ll be flying soon. But I think that’s probably good. I don’t want the fear to build up. I will have to fly much more in my life. So I think it should be OK.”