A woman aboard the flight that crashed in Richmond, B.C., Thursday said that as the flight approached Vancouver airport, she thought she would die and quickly sent emails to her children saying goodbye, she has told CBC News.

One of the pilots died and the eight others on board were injured when the plane suddenly smacked down onto a city street and caught fire one kilometre from the runway.

In a telephone interview, passenger Carolyn Cross said that about 15 minutes into a chartered flight to Kelowna, B.C., pilot Luc Fortin told passengers the aircraft would have to return to Vancouver. 

Fortin, who would later succumb to his injuries, said the plane "had a leak in the left engine," Cross recalled.

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Passenger Carolyn Cross said the pilot's body language was frightening. (Submitted by Alan Russell)

She said Fortin's demeanour frightened her.

"I looked at the pilot. His hands were shaking with a very serious tremor and I knew this was a very serious problem," she said.

Speaking from her hospital bed, Cross said she grabbed her iPhone and wrote emails to her three children. She said she then felt oddly at peace.

Landing gear would not deploy

Cross said that as the plane was on final approach, the landing gear failed to deploy.

"The pilots looked at each other in a way that I recognized that said, 'This is it,'" she said.

Cross said the plane then veered left and crashed into the road.

"I looked around and I looked outside the window and there was lots of flames. The inside was full of gasoline."

Cross said she couldn't feel her legs.

"I found super-human strength," she said. "I called on God, and I got to the door and four amazing people dragged me out."

Several witnesses on the ground told CBC News that after the crash they rushed to help passengers get out of the Beechcraft King Air 100 as it slowly became engulfed in flames.

The 44-year-old Fortin died Thursday night.

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority said on Friday two of those on board — including the co-pilot — were in critical condition in intensive care, while four passengers were in serious but stable condition. Two others were discharged from hospital overnight.

RCMP said two more people on the ground were also hurt, but couldn't say if they were walking on the road or in a vehicle. They were treated by paramedics at the scene.

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A plane burns on a city street in Richmond, B.C., nearly one kilometre from the Vancouver airport runway. (Submitted by Nikolai Jensen)

With files from the CBC's Natalie Clancy and Mike Clarke