Toronto

Pickering man recounts 'near-death experience' on Toronto-bound Fly Jamaica flight

A man that was on a Toronto-bound flight that crash landed Friday in Guyana says he is still feeling the effects of his “near-death experience.”

‘It’s not that easy to sleep,’ passenger Invor Bedessee tells CBC Toronto

Invor Bedessee of Pickering was one of eight passengers on the Fly Jamaica flight who made it back to Pearson International Airport by Sunday. (YanJun Li/CBC)

A man that was on a Toronto-bound flight that crash landed Friday in Guyana says he is still feeling the effects of his "near-death experience."

Invor Bedessee of Pickering was one of eight passengers on the Fly Jamaica flight who made it back to Pearson International Airport by Sunday, and he's says still having trouble sleeping after the incident.

"I slept maybe four hours, probably. I went to bed around 2 [a.m.] and woke up around 6 [a.m.] again and had some small naps in between. It's not that easy to sleep," Bedessee told CBC Toronto Sunday.

Bedessee was among 82 Canadians on the flight, which experienced a hydraulics failure moments after departing from Georgetown, Guyana. Six people were injured when the plane crashed and came to an abrupt stop on an embankment.  

Problems before take off

In recalling the night of the flight, Bedessee says he noticed things were going wrong just after boarding the plane.

"The stewardesses had a big problem with the front left door. It would not close," he said.

A flight from Guyana to Toronto's Pearson International Airport was forced to turn around due to technical problems. The plane crash landed at an airport not far from the Guyanese capital of Georgetown. (Cheddi Jang International Airport/Facebook)

After several attempts, more help was called in, and he says the door was finally able to close 30 minutes later, after maintenance tried changing some parts.

Then about 10 or 15 minutes into the flight, Bedessee says passengers were informed  the plane would be heading back to the airport due to a hydraulics issue.

Chaos on the runway

He says the landing was fine, but the plane wouldn't stop once it hit the runway — blowing out two or three tires, ripping out its landing gear and slamming through a chain-link fence in the process.

"The right wing was flapping so much it actually ripped right off the fuselage," he said.  

Fly Jamaica flight OJ256 was forced to return to Cheddi Jagan International Airport in the Guyanese capital of Georgetown just 20 minutes after takeoff. (Adrian Narine/Associated Press)

When the plane came to a stop, he said there was a loud bang that sounded like a bomb going off.

"Everything went dark for seconds, and then the emergency lights came on, and the captain says, 'Evacuate, evacuate.'"

Bedessee says he was in the front row in business class and managed to escape safely, but he was shocked when he looked back at the plane.

"I looked to my left, and there was like a 30-feet drop. I was like, 'Holy moly, if we [moved] 10 more feet, we'd be in that ditch."

Nerve-racking trip back home

Bedessee was able to secure a seat in the first available flight to Toronto, and it wasn't easy.

"I had to suck it up and just be brave because I have to come back to my business, my two boys, my family."

And it was made even more nerve-racking when he was asked to disembark the plane when it stopped in Trinidad due to a mechanical issue.

"I said 'Oh my God, again?" he said. "I just grabbed my bag and ran out to the terminal."

The Boeing 757-200 aircraft overshot the runway. A passenger said it seemed as though the plane's brakes were not functioning properly once it landed. (Adrian Narine/Associated Press)

Now back home safely, he says he wants to take Fly Jamaica to court.

The airline isn't saying much in the aftermath of the incident, and in a statement the company said it's too early to comment on the cause of the accident.

"We are cooperating fully with the investigative authorities in their endeavours to find all the answers," Fly Jamaica said. "Meanwhile, our immediate focus is on the safe repatriation and welfare of all our passengers."

Bedessee says he's now anxious about taking off to the skies again but adds that he'll have to shake off his worries eventually.

"I have to do a lot of business around the world," he said. "Maybe later on we'll deal with that."

With files from Kelda Yuen

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