SOUTH BEND, Ind. The plane carrying USC's football team to South Bend plummeted during a severe thunderstorm, forcing the pilot to abort his first landing attempt.
There were about 125 people, including 82 players, on the chartered flight Thursday night for the cross-country trip for Saturday's game.
"That was terrifying," former Cottonwood High standout Stanley Havili told the Los Angeles Times. "I thought I was going to die."
Some passengers were thrown from their seats by turbulence as lightning crackled around the storm-tossed plane, USC sports information director Tim Tessalone told The Associated Press on Friday. Safety Taylor Mays was screaming.
"It was a little bit of a roller coaster drop there for a minute," Tessalone said. "We had some people fly out of some seats. Everybody is fine, but it was a frightening little dip there."
The pilot aborted the approach and circled around the storm before landing without incident about 20 minutes later to the relief of the shaken team and the spouses of some staff members also on the flight, Tessalone said.
Defensive end Lawrence Jackson said he was going to see the team trainer because a Popsicle stick pierced the inside of his mouth during the drop.
"It wasn't the worst flight I've ever been on," quarterback John David Booty said. "But it was definitely the biggest drop."