Joe Weston-Webb heard the jet come low over his home and instantly thought of Lockerbie. There was a crash, stunned silence, then screams from passengers trapped inside a concertina of smashed seats.
"It was horrendous," he said. "It seems a miracle that any one got out alive . . . and I can't believe that it all didn't go up in flames."The British Midland Airways Boeing 737-400 jet, with 126 people aboard, crashed beside the main north-south highway in central England Sunday as it attempted an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport with an engine on fire.
The second air disaster in Britain in less than three weeks sent a collective shudder through this village of 2,000 on the edge of the airport as residents remembered the Scottish town of Lockerbie and the Dec. 21 crash of Pan Am Flight 103.
All 259 people aboard that Boeing 747 died when a bomb ripped the plane apart in the air, and 11 people in Lockerbie were killed by falling wreckage.
"We have been very lucky," said George Mellors, 46, another Kegworth resident. "It could easily have been another Lockerbie."
David Harris ran into his garden and watched in horror as the plane flew 60 feet over his head and crashed nearby, turning the night sky red.
"Thoughts of Lockerbie came into my mind," he said. "The pilot did well to avoid our built-up area in Kegworth village. It was only seconds away from hitting the center of the community."
Flight 92 from London to Belfast hit an embankment on the side of the M1 highway about a half-mile from the airport and broke in pieces.
Rachel Meadows, 19, of Derby, said she saw the plane come down just yards away as she was driving on the highway.
"It seemed to clip the embankment on one side of the motorway and then just bounce across before it plowed into the trees. There was an almighty flash but it didn't explode. A lot of cars on the motorway began to brake hard. I thought it was going to be a massive pileup, but luckily no cars were hit by the plane."
Weston-Webb, 50, of nearby Sutton Bonningale, was one of the first on the scene. When he arrived, everthing was silent. "People started screaming later," he said.
"The seats were all slapped on top of each other where they had gone forward. And the seats had all gone forward toward the cockpit end and the people had all been shunted together. There were people in a sort of concertina, you had to take the seats from the back of the people in front to get them out," Weston-Webb said.