Survivor of crash that killed Lidle out of hospital

Updated: November 10, 2006, 2:59 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Ilana Benhuri remembers her first thought as the small plane crashed through her apartment window: "I was dead."

She had been baking an apple pie for her 12-year-old daughter's school, and doing some paperwork at a desk in her four-bedroom apartment. She never saw the plane carrying New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle but felt it hit.

"The explosion threw me up in the air," Benhuri, 50, said Friday as she left Weill Cornell-New York Hospital Medical Center after a month of being treated for severe burns. "I was screaming. I could not stop screaming. I did not know what it was."

Lidle and flight instructor Tyler Stanger were killed when the plane slammed nose-first into Benhuri's 30th floor apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side on Oct. 11.

The two had been flying north up the East River and were trying to turn back, officials said.

Benhuri's housekeeper, Eveline Reategue, saw the small plane coming and rushed into the room to warn Benhuri, but there wasn't time. As the women tried to run, the plane crashed through the apartment wall, setting off a fireball.

Benhuri suffered burns below her waist, but she and Reategue made it down the building's stairs to safety. During her month in the hospital, Benhuri underwent surgery and multiple skin grafts.

"She's still in pain," said her attorney, Bob Sullivan, who added that a lawsuit was likely against Lidle's estate.

Authorities have not said which man was at the controls of the Cirrus SR20. Federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have said the inability of the plane's pilot to turn sharply in a light wind was responsible for the crash.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press