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One Chicago household had the surprise of a lifetime this week when a piece of safety equipment from a commercial airliner fell from the sky into their backyard.
On Monday afternoon, an emergency evacuation slide fell from a United Airlines flight arriving at Chicago O’Hare International Airport from Zurich, Switzerland. No one was injured in the incident, but the house sustained some damage.
“I’m stunned a little bit. I’m just glad that everybody is safe and okay,” homeowner Patrick Devitt said. “Just seeing that in my backyard, like wow. This really happened. It fell off of an airplane and landed in our backyard.”
The house is not far from the airport, and Devitt’s son and father-in-law were inside when the slide hit the home, which made a sound they described as a “boom.” The house’s roof, window screen, and downspout were damaged from the impact.
After the plane landed at O’Hare, maintenance workers discovered that the slide was missing. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Boeing 767 was carrying 155 passengers and 10 crew members, but no one on the plane knew what had happened, according to Today Show.
“When it’s all stretched out, like it’s a little jumbled up I’m sure in the picture from when we dragged it out, it’s larger than a small car,” Devitt told WLS-TV. “It’s a very, very big piece of equipment.”
After the slide had scraped the roof and landed in the backyard, the men called the police, and within a half hour, the FAA was at the home to investigate. On the same day, the men told the outlet that two United Airlines representatives retrieved the slide.
“We immediately contacted the FAA and are working with our team to better understand the circumstances around this matter,” a statement from United said.
It’s still unclear how exactly the slide fell from the plane, but the FAA said it would continue investigating the matter. DePaul University professor Joe Schwieterman told WLS that the incident will prompt “major investigations.”
“This was not a bird strike or something that’s routine. It’s a rare instance that could have caused fatalities on the ground or even affected the stability of that airplane when it was landing,” he said.
However, this is not the first time an incident like this has happened. In 2019, an emergency slide fell from a Delta Air Lines plane in the yard of a Boston home, injuring no one, ABC 7 reported. Three years earlier, a similar incident occurred in Mesa, Arizona, in another case where no injuries were reported.