Minnesota man helps others escape Denver plane crash
DENVER, Colorado ” When Continental Flight 1404 crashed and burned on a Denver, Colorado runway, passenger Rich Kostynick led his wife Susan to an exit door away from the flames.
But as Susan Kostynick left the burning plane, her husband ” a retired teacher from Detroit Lakes ” was not with her.
“He just thought that was his mission,” she told the Forum of Fargo, recalling how Rich Kostynick helped several other people get off the plane.
The entire right side of the Boeing 737-500 was burned in the Dec. 20 crash, which injured 38 of the 115 passengers aboard. Authorities have said it’s a miracle no one was killed.
Rich and Susan Kostynick were on the last leg of a flight to Houston, Texas, to visit their son Timothy. Susan said the takeoff was rocky from the start, leading her to think the runway was packed with ice ” until the plane made several hard up and down jerks before skidding off the runway into a ravine.
Susan lost her glasses in the tumult, but said her husband put his hands on her hips and guided her to the exit door. Susan went out the door and slid down the wing, soaking her pants with jet fuel, then ran with several other passengers up a nearby hill to a fire station.
Susan said her husband then helped several others, including a young mother with two children.
“My husband swooped up the girl, got the mother and the older daughter down the chute and got the third-grader and put her down the chute,” Susan Kostynick said.
She said he turned around at that point and realized there was no one left except the crew. “He saw more flames and thought, ‘Oh, I gotta get the heck out of here,'” Susan said.
Rich Kostynick downplayed his own actions, instead praising the response of emergency workers and the American Red Cross. “You’re in such a state of mind at the time,” he said of his efforts.
Rich Kostynick spent much of his 35-year teaching career as a fifth-grade teacher in Frazee. Susan Kostynick teaches second grade in Perham.
Susan Kostynick said the disaster scene looked just as it would in a movie, but she said passengers and crew remained calm and quiet throughout. She said a member of the crew told her afterward that it was amazing that the plane did not explode.
“We feel really blessed to still be here,” she said.