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DENVER, Colorado (KUSA) – Asiana Flight 214 was part of a first trip to South Korea for three kids living in Greenwood Village, Colorado.
Their parents, born in that country, took their 11, 13 and 15-year-old to learn about their heritage and to experience the culture firsthand.
On their way home came the moment the Jang family cannot and will not forget.
Jun and his wife Shinyi were sitting in row 40, during the 10 hour flight. Their three children sat together across the aisle.
“During the landing process I was mostly asleep,” Jun said. “As I was waking up I just heard a big noise, a big bang.”
Jun suspects the impact knocked him out.
“The next thing that I remember is that I’m laying down on a field being treated by the first responders.”
He was taken to an emergency room in an ambulance.
“From there on it was all chaos,” Jun said. “I didn’t really have any time to think about anything else.”
As he sat in his Greenwood Village home on Monday, surrounded by his children, he recalled what they told him about the events of that fateful day in San Francisco.
“We were both on the floor of the airplane. I don’t remember how we got out of the seat, but you know, the impact created such force that I think our chairs fell on the floor,” Jun said.
“My kids tells me that actually I got up from my seat in the airplane and I walked to the front of the plane,” Jun said. “And then I took the slide and I kind of came to this place where everybody congregated.”
“But, I don’t remember any of that,” he clarified. “This is my kids telling me what I did.”
He says his wife also has no recollection of sliding out of the plane. But they know they did because someone took pictures of them sliding down together.
“And the next thing you know is I’m on a bed in a hospital,” Jun said.
Jun fractured his foot, skull and spine – and is wearing a neck brace. His wife, who suffered the most serious injuries of the family, is confined to a body brace.
The kids, 15-year-old Esther, 13-year-old Joseph and 11-year-old Sarah walked away from the wreckage with minor injuries.
“I still can’t believe that actually happened,” said Joseph Jang, who hopped right on his bike the day after the family returned home. “I’m really happy that our whole family’s like alive.”
“I’m very thankful of that,” Jun said. “[I'm] very thankful that we are here to talk about it to each other.”
And talk, they did. His well-spoken kids were eager to share memories about their once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I remember I was really excited to finally get off the plane after a really long flight from Korea,” Esther said. “And then all of a sudden [a] huge impact hit us and we were bouncing all over the place – and then just stopped.”
“Things were falling on us,” said Sarah, who suffered only a broken finger.
“I was like holding onto like my seat for like, like my dear life,” Joseph said. “I looked over to my mom and dad – and all three of us were calling their names and we just heard them moaning. So we knew that they were still alive.”
“Me and my brother and sister were taken to an exit on the right,” Esther said.
“She couldn’t go off that exit because there wasn’t a slide,” Joseph said.
Esther couldn’t jump off because her ankle was injured.
“So, a flight attendant showed me to another exit with a slide,” Esther said. “I feel really blessed and I thank God that all of us made it out of the crash.”
Esther later found out her foot was sprained.
“I feel lucky,” Sarah said, smiling, surrounded by her family.
“I just thank God,” Jun said. “I think his hands [were] on us to protect us.”
He says the experience has given his family some much needed perspective.
“We should value our life preciously,” Jun said. “I think this is going to bring our family a lot closer together. This is going to be a sort of a life-changing event for us.”
“Yes, I’m going to be much nicer to my sisters,” Joseph said with his boyish grin.
“I feel lucky, like my whole family,” Sarah smiled. “I’m definitely going to remember this because it’s very big.”
“I’m definitely a lot more thankful for my life and everything else I have,” Esther said. “I hope that we all heal quickly.”
“My mom’s doing a lot better than right after the crash, when she couldn’t even move,” Esther said. “But now she can kind of get around on her own. But, she’s in pain.”
Esther has already started to immerse herself in her studies. She has summer assignments that she must finish before she starts 10th grade in the fall.
Younger sister Sarah is happy to only have one required book to read before she starts 7th grade.
Joseph is headed to 8th grade, and is already making plans for college.
Their proud father smiles and laughs as he watches and listens to them recount the events of the past week. But, he also took a private moment to remember other girls who weren’t so lucky – who lost their lives that day.
“Just behind my kids, there were four Chinese girls,” Jun said. “I believe that two out of those four were those students that got killed during the accident. And you know it’s even more chilling to think about that. My kids were like inches away from those seats. It’s just more to be thankful of that we are here.”