A Dundalk mother of four has told the Dundalk Democrat how she and her family believed that they were going to die after their flight to Spain started plummeting out of the sky.
Tara Nash was flying to Reus Airport near Barcelona with her husband Robert and their four children, Tiernan (12), Ciara (8), Micheál (7) and Liam (11 months) on Ryanair flight FR 4398.
The flight departed at 3.45pm and up until 35 minutes out of Reus, the flight had gone smoothly.
“We only about 25 minutes from Reus, there was no turbulence, the flight was fine,” says Tara. “But we did leave 10 minutes late because passengers were late getting onto the plane.”
What was abou t to happen has left Tara and her family deeply traumatised, as they were about to experience a flight from hell.
“The air hostesses were walking about and I had just come back from using the loo.
“My husband had the baby, he was walking up and down with him, trying to keep him entertained.
“Because I’m a nervous flyer, the other children were all seated with their seatbelts on. They were sitting in the row directly across from us.
“Then the plane just dropped out of the sky. basically. It just plummeted. “
Ryanair Flight FR 4398 dramatically pitched down, losing many metres of altitude in just a few seconds.
“I don’t know much, because we all just cowered.
“My husband was just standing but he threw himself into the seat beside me, and I threw myself over the baby on his knee.
“Everyone was thrown up into the roof who didn’t have a seatbelt on.
“The plane then tilted a good 60 degrees, and everyone was all thrown around the place and the luggage all fell down from the compartments.
“The warning lights went on, and then the plane starting going side to side and thumping up and down.
“The noise was just horrendous. One of the air hostesses ran to cockpit, and she assumed there was something wrong with the pilot.
“The was a male member of the cabin crew and he had just gone yellow and we tried to speak to him, and he was just shaking and shaking and had to sit down.”
Tara’s youngest, baby Liam was bruised on his head and face, while her eldest son Tiernan had badly bruised legs.She herself had also suffered cuts and bruising.
Yet there were others on board who had sustained worse injuries.
“The lady in front of us whose back of the head was busted and blood was running down her neck.
“Then there was a lady at the back of the plane who was unconscious, and her head was busted open with blood.
“Then the urine started leaking from the toilets and started running up the plane.”
The hostess then asked was there anyone medically trained on board.
“The air hostesses were unable to help anyone as they had been knocked around the place.”
A male and female nurse attempted to treat the really badly injured people. The pilot then went to make an emergency landing.
“The pilot came on told everyone that they had hit turbulence and that everyone needed to get back in their seat and fasten their seat belt.
“At this stage everyone was hysterical. Children were screaming, everything was all over the place on the plane, everything had been spilt, loads of people were bleeding...and they said we were making an emergency landing, and there was no messing about it, he took us down that fast.
“It literally busted the plane off the runway trying to get us down.”
They then had to wait on the plane for 20 minutes before they were allowed disembark.
“Everyone was just sat in their seat crying and crying and in shock. It’s only in the last couple of days that I’ve been able to come round.”
The eldest son Tiernan has been suffering nightmares, and their other children Ciara and Micheál have been begging Tara not to make them go back on the plane for the return flight.
“We just that relieved to get off the plane, we just left like zombies.”
Tara and her family now face the nightmare having to fly back, something they are dreading and desperately trying to avoid. They say no one from Ryanair has been on the ground and they were ‘shuffled off the plane’ and told to ‘go’.
Tara said that it has been next to impossible to contact Ryanair following the harrowing flight. On the one occasion she was able to get through she described the person on the other end of the phone as having been “exceptionally rude”.
“We all thought that was it, the plane was crashing. We were going to die. It was horrific.
“It’s one thing that this has happened to me,” says Tara, but the fact that it has happened to my children makes it so much worse. They are begging me, “We’re not getting the plane are we mammy”.
When speaking to the Democrat the family had not yet decided how ye to get home and spent their holiday recovering from the shock of the flight and trying to make other arrangements.
“I cannot stress how bad of an experience it was.
“I can tell you without a doubt that if I have to take a flight home, that will be the last flight I take in my entire life. I will never, ever, take a flight again as long as I live.”