'Miracle' recovery for Manhattan plane crash victim
Of the 23 people injured in the crash, Benhuri was the only one to be hospitalized.
By SIMEON COHEN
Ilana Benhuri, a 50-year-old Iranian Jew who was severely injured when a light plane crashed into her New York apartment building last month, was released from the hospital Friday morning after a monthlong stay and miraculous recovery.
October 11 was turning out to be a run-of-the-mill, New York day for Benhuri, a mother of three. She was baking an apple pie for her 12-year-old son to bring to school and doing some paperwork at her desk when a small plane owned by New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle lost control in the wind and smashed into the 30th story of her Upper East Side building.
"At first I thought I was dead," a visibly shaken Benhuri told reporters upon her release from the hospital Friday morning. "I touched myself just to make sure I was alive." She realized with horror that much of her skin and flesh had come off onto her hands.
Benhuri was severely injured in the crash, which occurred exactly a month after the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Her housekeeper, Eveline Reategue, saw the plane coming and rushed in to warn her. As they fled the four-bedroom apartment, the plane smashed through the wall, setting off a massive explosion. The crash killed Lidle and his flight instructor, Tyler Stanger. Benhuri and Reategue crawled out from the debris and descended the stairs.
"She ran fast," Benhuri's husband, Dr. Parviz Benhuri, said. "That was a miracle. I don't know how she made it."
Benhuri spent a month at the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center of the New York Presbyterian Weil-Cornell Medical Center, where her husband is a prominent cardiologist. She had major surgery and several skin grafts.
"I'm so happy that I'm out," Benhuri said. "I'm so happy that I'm alive and I'm so happy to come out and see the sky again and all the people around me. I'm so grateful that I survived this tragic accident."
Of the 23 people injured in the crash, Benhuri was the only one to be hospitalized. The others, including 14 firefighters, were quickly treated and released.
For now, Benhuri, her husband and youngest son will live with friends at an undisclosed Manhattan location. They still don't know whether they will return to their badly damaged apartment.
AP contributed to this report.
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