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Frightened Passengers Recall Emergency Landing Terror

Robbie Owens for CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - When a Spirit Airlines flight bound for Atlanta was forced to return to DFW and make an emergency landing on Tuesday, Casey Rogers of Krum experienced the terror firsthand.  But, when he sent what he thought might be his last message to his wife, the horror was no longer his alone.

“He said, ‘Ashlee, I love you.  Make sure my kids know that forever’; says his wife, Ashlee Rogers.  She says she should have deleted the messages already… but, just can’t bring herself to do so.  Not yet.  She admits that they are words from a loving husband that most women would long to hear—if the message had stopped right there.  But, it didn’t.  The message continued with “We are having a problem on the plane.  It’s full of smoke and the engine has stopped.  The whole plane is shaking. I love you. Don’t forget it.  Pray for me.”

Ashlee didn’t want to believe what she was reading – and responded with a flurry of frantic text messages of her own.  “Casey! Don’t tell me that! Are you kidding? Please tell me you’re joking.  Casey? Casey, don’t do this to me. Answer your phone.  Are you okay?”

At that point, Rogers and all of the other passengers were being told to stay calm – but, no one would describe the situation as ‘okay.’
He would later tell his wife that a friend on the flight with him – an experienced pilot – reassured worried passengers than the Airbus A319 was built to withstand being buffeted about.  But, Ashlee says soon even the friend became concerned.

“When they heard the second explosion and all of the flames coming down the side of the aircraft, his friend looked over at him and said ‘this isn’t good, this isn’t good for us’.”

It was then that Casey pulled out his cell phone and sent what he thought might be his last words to his wife.

“He sent me another text message that said, ‘you have always been the woman of my dreams. I will always love you’,” says Ashlee.  “At that point, I knew it was true.  This was really happening.”

The Rogers’ have three children – 8, 5 and 1.

“My initial thought was, ‘how do you tell your children and your heart that their Dad’s not coming home?’”, says Ashlee.  “We have three kids and who tells them that Daddy’s not coming home?”

She says it felt like forever; but, it was likely a terrifying half hour that she spent worrying and wondering if Casey was okay.

“I was hyperventilating.  I immediately felt like I was going to throw up… like worry just struck my entire body.”

Then, finally, the overwhelming relief when the plane landed safely and Casey was able to give her a call.  But, Ashlee says the crisis also gave her new insight into the man she married.

“In the middle of all that he picks up his phone and tells me that he loves me and the children.  And I don’t think you can replace that.  I know that he loves me and the children with everything that he has.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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