CHICAGO [PeterPaul.ca] – A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jetliner slid off the runway at Midway Airport Thursday, coming to rest northwest of the runway at Central and 55th Streets, officials said.
The accident occurred 33 years to the day that United Airlines Flight 533 crashed on a missed approach pattern at the same airport, killing 45 people.
Christ Medical Center reported the first casualty as an 8-year-old boy who was in a vehicle trapped under the body of the plane when it came to rest on a street. All 98 passengers and five crew members aboard Southwest Airlines flight 1428 escaped with their lives and eleven others were taken to area hospitals with “bumping” injuries, the airline said.
Fire officials on the ground said nine people were taken from nearby vehicles and another three from the crashed plane. The condition of at least one of those victims was described as “critical” late Thursday.
The flight was earlier delayed from Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) airport due to bad weather but its expected departure was delayed by almost two hours, departing BWI at 16:50 CST. After circling Midway Airport for 35 minutes due to heavy snowfall, flight 1248 finally touched down at 19:15 CST.
The Boeing 737 was one of nine flights scheduled between the two cities, according to the airport. The airline has operated at Chicago’s Midway Airport for twenty years beginning in 1985, averaging about 176 departures daily.
On March 5, 2000, an eerily similar accident occurred when Southwest flight 1455, also a Boeing 737, overran the runway after touching down at Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport in California. The aircraft ended up on a city street beside a gas station.
The Boeing 737-700 model entered service in December 1997 with Southwest Airlines, almost one year after receiving certification. One takes off or lands somewhere in the world every 5.3 seconds and at least 1,200 are airborne at any one time, the company said on their website.
Southwest’s fleet of 429 Boeing 737s includes 210 737-700s, configured with about 137 average seats on each aircraft.