Survivor looks back on United Airlines Flight 232 crash 30 years later

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thirty years ago today, a United Airlines flight from Denver to Chicago made a fiery landing in Sioux City, Iowa.

More than 100 people died, marking one of the deadliest aviation disasters in American history.

ABC 7 spoke to a survivor, Rod Vetter, who shared his memories of the United Flight 232 crash on its 30th anniversary.

Vetter recalled bracing for impact from seat 19-D.

"I remember being upside down, in a cornfield and on fire," Vetter said.

He said he eventually spotted an escape after the plane's exits were on fire.

"I saw a rip in the side of the airplane, and there were people going out that, so I followed that," Vetter said. "And Sister Viannea, a nun from Chicago, a wonderful lady. I helped get her out of the airplane."

The plane crash was the result of a massive engine failure that severed the plane's hydraulic systems.

Vetter keeps articles from the disaster in 1989, including his personal items that were singed and warped.

Even with time softening his memories of the crash, Vetter said he still thinks "about the hundred and something people who didn't get to come back."

Vetter said the anniversary of the crash has become more meaningful with age. He reached out to another survivor Friday morning, and planned to make another call to a flight attendant.

He said they all have a special bond, and he feels fortunate to be able to share his story.

Vetter said the disaster serves as a reminder, even years later, that "there is no guarantee for tomorrow."

"... So appreciate everything you have and your family because you never know," he said.
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