A loud boom came from outside a Chicago home Monday as the emergency slide of a United Airlines jetliner hit the side of the house after falling from the aircraft.
United is not providing answers about how it happened – an investigation is underway.
But the family who found the part of the large plane are happy that no one was hurt.
“It hit … the downspout and came straight down,” said Patrick Devitt, pointing to his home.
It landed in a garden and “broke” a lot of plants, “stuff like that,” Devitt said.
United officials said the slide fell from a Boeing 767 as it was flying into O’Hare International Airport from Switzerland.
Devitt’s house is under a flight path, right next to O’Hare. But he said that this incident was first.
“A couple of inches, you know, further east, and it would have landed right on the house,” Devitt said. “So we are very lucky.”
They were especially lucky as Devitt’s 2-year-old son was inside eating lunch with his grandfather.
Devitt said he and his father-in-law dragged the crumpled 6-foot by 6-foot slide into the front yard and called police and other authorities.
“The woman we spoke to at the Department of Aviation said to us, ‘Well, how do you know it’s from an airplane?'” recalled Devitt. “‘Well, because there’s a huge slide in our backyard that’s bigger than a car, Mom. Of course it’s from a plane.”
United said there were 155 passengers and 10 crew on board, adding that the crew did not realize the slide was missing until the plane landed. Maintenance workers at O’Hare noticed it too.
Police came to the house and confirmed that the slide had fallen from a plane.
“I think we’re seeing here that there may be a pattern,” said transportation expert Joe Schwieterman, of DePaul University.
The same thing happened in Boston in 2019. An investigation found that the emergency slide of a Delta 767-300 crashed into the Boston suburb of Milton due to an improperly closed door.
“Since there have been some concerns in the past about this device, I think we will have a full investigation,” Schwieterman said.
That’s what United Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration say will happen.
Devitt says he plans to stay in touch with United.
“We will contact them for sure,” he said.