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Shock and survival: Asiana plane crash through the eyes of children

By Sara Sidner and Holly Yan, CNN
July 9, 2013 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
  • "We were all bouncing all over the place," 15-year-old Esther Jang says
  • Esther and her younger siblings called for their parents, who moaned in response
  • The family had to take different exits amid the chaos
  • "When we all reunited ... I was really glad, so I started crying," Joseph said.

San Francisco (CNN) -- After 10 long hours in the sky, the Jang children couldn't wait to get off the plane.

The Colorado siblings had just spent a month in Seoul, their first trip to South Korea. Their parents wanted them to get a taste of their heritage on their summer vacation.

But their summer vacation will now be remembered for something entirely different.

Joseph, Ester and Sarah were passengers on Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from Seoul to San Francisco.

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The three were all near the back of the plane, which bore the brunt of the impact.

"During the time it was crashing, I thought it was all like a dream because I didn't know (if) it was actually happening," 13-year-old Joseph told CNN's Sara Sidner.

"We were all bouncing all over the place," 15-year-old Esther added. "I just remember there being dust everywhere. I was freaking out, and then it just stopped."

The seats in front of them collapsed across their knees. Luggage and debris littered the cabin.

"After everything stopped and then I realized I was alive, I looked over and I saw my brother and sister. They were both fine," Esther said. "And then I looked over at my mom and my dad, and they were both on the floor because their seats fell down."

Joseph tried calling out to his parents across the aisle. But he couldn't breathe.

Interactive: What happened with Asiana Flight 214?

'Get out any way you can'

"I got the wind knocked out of me ... I was just hoping I could get some air because it was really scary," Joseph said.

The parents eventually responded to their children's calls with moans. The siblings knew they were alive.

But there was no time to absorb what happened. The plane could catch fire at any moment.

"The flight attendants just said get out any way you can," 11-year-old Sarah said.

"Me and my brother were out before my dad, my sister and my mom were out. So I was wondering if they were out of the plane, or still in the plane, 'cause after a while the plane started ... having a fire."

The family was separated for more than an hour.

Did passengers ignore safety messages?

"When we all reunited ... I was really glad, so I started crying," Joseph said.

The entire family was injured, but none seriously. The three children and their father are all recovering at San Francisco General Hospital.

Joseph has a minor fracture in his back. Esther has a sprained foot and needs crutches. And Sarah has a fractured finger, heavily bandaged between her other pink fingernails.

"I describe this experience as I got really lucky," Joseph said. "We all got really lucky."

The family was supposed to board another flight to Denver. They still haven't made it home to Colorado yet.

So a nurse let the children use her computer to post messages on Facebook, letting their friends know they were OK.

Esther's post: "My life flashed before my eyes. I thank God that me and my family are safe."

Did pilot have enough 777 experience?

CNN's Sara Sidner reported from San Francisco; Holly Yan wrote from Atlanta.

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Asiana Flight 214 crash
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