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American passenger in Aeromexico plane crash describes fiery scene

The Chicago resident said his "spider sense" kicked in as soon as the plane took off: "A miracle we all made it."
by Eun Kyung Kim / / Source: TODAY

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An American on board the Aeroméxico plane that crashed Tuesday shortly after taking off in northern Mexico said he knew something was wrong as soon as the jet departed.

“I felt turbulence before, as I’m an avid flier, but this time it was different,” Chicago resident Alberto Herrera said Wednesday on TODAY.

“To kind of put it in the weirdest terms, if you’ve ever heard of spider sense, essentially, you kind of felt like something was wrong,” he added. “At that point, I just started, out of instinct, bracing for impact as the plane started jolting.”

Herrera, 35, was among the 103 passengers on the flight from Durango, Mexico, to Mexico City, when a strong wind gust brought the plane down in a fiery crash.

Although dozens on board were injured, no fatalities were reported.

“I feel that it’s kind of a miracle that we all made it. It’s just a blessing that I’m here to tell the story the next day,” said Herrera, who escaped with only scratches to his knee.

The plane was an Embraer 190 aircraft that took off at around 3:30 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. ET) during a storm when it was hit by a gust of wind and went down about 1,000 feet from the runway, said José R. Aispuro Torres, the governor of Durango state.

Herrera said people started screaming in confusion as the plane hit the ground and began skidding.

“The cabin just started filling with black smoke. At that point, what we wanted to do, we wanted to try to find the nearest exit,” he said.

Although the plane’s emergency slides had popped out, they couldn’t be used, said Herrera, who headed to the back of the plane to see if there was anyone he could help off the plane.

“I went into, ‘how can I help other people’ mode,” said Herrera, who had been in Mexico to attend the baptism of a cousin's daughter.

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