Plane Dumps Fuel On An Elementary School Playground During An Emergency Landing

by Christina Marfice
CBS Los Angeles/Youtube

Videos show the plane dropping fuel over a playground full of kids as it heads back to LAX to make an emergency landing

A plane that was leaving Los Angeles for Shanghai, China, was forced to turn back to make an emergency landing at LAX. Before doing so, it had to reduce its landing weight by dumping out full tanks of fuel. It just so happened that the fuel was being dumped while the plane was directly over an elementary school playground full of kids, many of whom were doused in gasoline.

The Delta flight had just taken of from LAX with more than 140 people on board when an engine issue forced it to turn back for an immediate emergency landing.

“Shortly after takeoff, Flight 89 from LAX to Shanghai experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return quickly to LAX,” Delta said in a statement. “The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight. Delta is in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the L.A. County Fire Department as well as community leaders, and shares concerns regarding reports of minor injuries to adults and children at schools in the area.”

Police and fire crews responded to the elementary school, and the Los Angeles Times reports that 60 people were treated for minor injuries after being in the path of landing plane. At least 20 of those were children. Reports also say that everyone was treated on-site and no one was taken from the elementary school to the hospital.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Nicholas Prange told reporters that two classes were outside on the playground when they saw the plane overhead and the fuel dump happened, and that to the kids, it just felt like it was suddenly raining. He said all kids and adults were told to go inside and stay there. 11-year-old sixth grader Josue Burgos was in his physical education class outside when it happened.

“We came out and we were playing, and the airplane was outside and we thought it was rain, but then we knew it was throwing gas on us, and everybody started to run,” he said. “We went to the auditorium and we knew what happened. We went back to class. We stayed for one hour and then we went home.”

Josue said it was the smell that gave away what had happened.

“Yeah, it smelled bad,” he said. “It wasn’t water.”

Thankfully, no one was badly injured, on the plane or on the ground. This situation was scary for all involved, but it could have been far worse.