A man recalls screaming as he fell towards the ocean on a United flight

  • A United Airlines plane crashed 800 feet over the Pacific Ocean in December.
  • A passenger on the flight, Rod Williams, told CNN it felt like a “roller coaster ride.”
  • Williams said he thought it was his family’s final moments.

A passenger on a United Airlines flight that fell 250 meters into the Pacific Ocean told CNN that those on board were “screaming” and “praying”.

Rod Williams said he and his family were flying home from a family vacation in Maui, Hawaii on Dec. 18 when the incident occurred.

Williams told CNN in an interview Monday that the Boeing 777-200 began to climb at a “worrying rate” for a few seconds shortly after takeoff.

“It felt like climbing to the top of a roller coaster,” Williams told CNN. “At that point there was a series of screams on the plane. Everyone knew something was unusual, or at least that this was not normal.”

The plane climbed 2,200 feet before suddenly jumping and falling 1,425 feet in 18 seconds, according to data from FlightRadar24.

“As the plane began to fall, several screams were emitted at that point,” Williams told CNN.

“You’re trying your best to keep your composure – obviously there are children on the plane – nobody really knows what’s going on, but at the same time you’re concerned. They don’t know if that’s a problem, but it was certainly unusual.”

Williams said that during the descent he looked at his wife, who was sitting on the other side of their two children.

“It’s tense, you don’t really have the ability to speak or conjure words, you just hold on to the seat and pray quietly,” he said. “I asked her later and actually … we prayed for a miracle because we had a feeling it might be.”

The plane came within 775 feet of the ocean before abruptly leveling out.

The crew reported the incident after landing safely in San Francisco, a United Airlines spokesman told Insider. The pilots, who had a combined 25,000 flight hours, received additional training, they added.

It’s unclear what exactly caused the swoop, and the Federal Aviation Administration told insiders that reports of safety incidents and issues are kept private.

Williams said he didn’t realize how close it was to crashing until this week.

“Now that I know what happened statistically and that we were about 5-5.2 seconds from hitting the water, you know, I’m definitely counting my blessings,” he said.

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