A Delta Air Lines 727 jet bound for Salt Lake City with 107 people aboard crashed on takeoff, exploded and burst into flames Wednesday morning at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Although details remained sketchy late Wednesday morning, the latest information reported 11 people dead and 96 others having survived the crash, including three crew members.The number of Utahns on the flight was unknown.
During a news conference at Salt Lake International Airport on Wednesday morning, Delta officials said the passenger list would be released as soon as it became available. The home bases of the pilot and crew were also unavailable Wednesday morning.
"I'm not able to give you information in terms of passenger names, status or conditions," said Fred Rollins, Delta's district marketing director. "We understand passengers have been removed from the aircraft, and according to our information there are survivors."
He said the plane's pilot suffered a broken back and the co-pilot and navigator walked away from the wreckage.
Early reports said air ambulances landed near the crash site, just off of the end of one of the airport's four north-south runways.
Sixty survivors were taken to Harris Methodist Heb, Northeast Community and Irving Community hospitals. Another three victims were sent to Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital; the plane's captain was taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
Airline officials at the Salt Lake airport gathered close family members in Delta's Crown Room at Concourse C. Several Delta security agents guarded the door to keep the media and the curious away.
Delta officials wearing red jackets asked people as they arrived if they could help them find a flight gate. If they asked for Flight 1141, other agents were supposed to whisk them away. The officials wouldn't say how many family members had come to the airport to meet the plane, although a Salt Lake police officer said only half a dozen relatives had shown up at the airport.
Comforters easily outnumbered those in need of comfort Wednesday as the Red Cross, police chaplains and Delta's own hospitality people were all on hand to serve their needs.
Cliff Higbee, a volunteer chaplain with the Salt Lake Police Department, said Delta apparently told some family members who had called the airport for information about the crash not to come to the airport, and gave them another number to call for information.
Higbee said the mood inside the Crown Room was "anxious but better than it could have been." Word that a large number of people survived the accident gave encouragement to relatives, he said.
Delta spokesman Bill Berry said from Atlanta that the cockpit crew should be able to provide important data about events during the brief flight. "They'll be able to tell us basically what their activity was during the few moments of the flight."
Rollins said he understood the pilot made an attempt to abort.
Berry said a Delta employee will be assigned to work with each family involved "until this incident is concluded."
A number of Delta employees will be sent to Salt Lake City to work with family members of the crash victims.
All information about the crash was being relayed by Delta's corporate command post in Atlanta with information being fed from Dallas, Rollins said.
The crash had little effect on Delta's Salt Lake hub operations, he said.
Flight 1141 was apparently scheduled to change flight numbers and return to Dallas-Fort Worth via Phoenix, but Delta officials would neither confirm nor deny that. But Flight 588 to Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth was canceled.
George Alden, Brooksville, Fla., was scheduled to be on that flight. "They wouldn't tell us if that was the plane that crashed, but we heard rumors that it was."
Alden said he was obviously relieved that he hadn't been on the plane when it crashed but felt very badly for those who were. "But I am not at all worried about flying."
Alden said his main concern was for 65 pounds of frozen salmon melting on the runway that had been brought in from Alaska.
Mike Stevens, Salt Lake City, was also going to Phoenix on Flight 588. "I didn't believe it at first. It is really disconcerting to know the next time the plane would take off that you would be on it - and you don't know whether equipment malfunction caused the crash. You also know that stewardess and others would have been on the flight with you. That hits too close to home."
He said Delta officials also wouldn't tell him whether the plane had been involved in the crash, but they told him the flight had been rescheduled for 12:20 p.m. for Phoenix.
The Deseret News checked offices of the Mississippi-Jackson Mission and the Texas-Fort Worth, the Texas-Houston, Texas-San Antonio and Texas-Dallas missions.
Mission presidents or other mission workers said no LDS missionaries were aboard Flight 1141.
President Douglas E. Brinley, Ogden, of the Texas-Dallas Mission, reported that 12 missionaries from his mission were released Tuesday.
Seven of the 12 were from Utah, with six of the seven flying home. The other missionary, Elder Michael Flood, Farmington, Utah, is still in the mission, where his parents, Gary and Laraine, drove to Texas to meet him.
"Normally, we send missionaries home on Wednesday, but a month ago we decided that we would move the release day up one day to a Tuesday. So this was the first group of missionaries who went home on a Tuesday. We are just grateful that all our missionaries got home Tuesday. Had the missionaries stayed over to have a testimony meeting and gone out this morning it's possible that all of the missionaries could have been on the flight," Brinley said.
The mission president said that Jane Wood, a Relief Society homemaking leader from the Garland (Texas) 2nd Ward, Richardson Stake, and her two sons, ages 5 and 3, were among the survivors.
Witnesses at the airport in Texas said one of the plane's engines was on fire as it was taking off and the tail section never left the ground. After the crash, the plane's twisted wreckage lay burning and smoking in two pieces in a field.
Clive Lee told Dallas radio station KRLD he saw the crash as he was driving along the highway.
"I was watching out of my window and saw a plane taking off and the tail never seemed to pick up properly," he said. "And then the tail hit the ground and exploded."
The crash Wednesday is the airline's first crash this year and the only crash Delta has had involving fatalities since the major crash at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in 1985, according to J.L. Swing, a spokesman for Delta in Atlanta. That flight killed 137 people, including one person on the ground. The crash was caused by windshear from a small but violent thunderstorm.
But Berry said the fact that the Delta crashed occurred at the same airport as Delta's most recent fatal accident during the same month three years ago is "a coincidence just a little beyond description."