NewsChannel 3 explores the odds of survival after jet crashes into Beach apartments

Posted at 8:26 PM, Apr 09, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-11 09:54:59-04

As the images from Friday kept pouring in, everyone was praying for the best but feared the worst. Amazingly, no one died in the fiery crash on Friday. But what are the odds of that happening? NewsChannel 3’s Reed Andrews took an in-depth look at the probability.

Old Dominion physics professor, Lawrence Weinstein says there was only a 1% chance everyone made it out alive.

“You’ve got a 16-ton jet aircraft traveling at just about 200 miles an hour, and so when it hits the ground, it’s going to have a very large impact,” says Weinstein.

Weinstein knows probability; he’s written a book on the topic. He says the odds of the jet directly landing on someone were low, but serious injury to people after the crash was very, very likely.

“In the middle of the day, you’d expect a reasonable number to be home and you don’t have too much time to get them out,” says Weinstein.

He says the impact from the jet is tough for people to understand, so he offers this analogy: an 18-wheeler going full-speed doesn’t even come close what happened Friday.

“That plane hitting the ground is going to have about ten times the kinetic energy, do about ten times as much damage,” he says.

The fact that no one died is so improbable that it almost needs to be explained by the unexplainable.

“It’s a miracle, and again, the main attitude is great thankfulness,” says Rabbi Michael Panitz.

He says this is just one of God’s many blessings, but he has doubts the miracle was divine intervention.

“There are times that a plane will crash and there will be fatalities, and I’m not sure what it means to believe in a God who could stop fatalities all the time and chooses to prevent them now and choose not to prevent them then,” says Panitz.

No matter how you think, the pilots and people inside the apartments were saved, we should all be counting our blessings.