An emergency evacuation slide from a United Airlines Boeing 767 plane landed in a Chicago neighborhood on Monday, after falling from the sky near the city’s O’Hare International Airport, sparking shock on social media.
The slide, described as “larger than a small car,” hit a house in the 4700 block of North Chester, causing some damage, but no injuries. An investigation into what took place has been launched by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to the FAA, the aircraft had landed safely at O’Hare International Airport from Switzerland, when maintenance workers noted the evacuation slide was missing. It had landed in the backyard of Chicago resident Patrick Devitt, causing some damage as it scraped across his roof.
Speaking to local network ABC 7 Chicago, Devitt said the incident took place at around 12:15 p.m., when he was away, but his son and father-in-law were inside the property. The family called 911, with FAA officials arriving on the scene within 30 minutes.
Photos taken by Devitt show the remains of the large, silver-colored evacuation slide once it had been dragged round to the front of his house.
He commented: “When it’s all stretched out, like, it’s a little jumbled up. I’m sure, in the picture, from when we dragged it out, it’s larger than a small car. It’s a very, very big piece of equipment that fell.
“I’m stunned a little bit. I’m just glad that everybody is safe and okay. Just, just seeing that in my backyard, like wow. This really happened. It fell off of an airplane and landed in our backyard.”
In a statement, United Airlines said that after the accident: “We immediately contacted the FAA and are working with our team to better understand the circumstances around this matter.”
Newsweek has contacted United Airlines and the FAA by email, requesting additional information.
The accident caused an immediate reaction on social media, with one Twitter user commenting: “OKAY NOW YOU’VE HEARD THE MOST INSANE THING TODAY! Emergency evacuation slide from United flight falls into neighborhood near Chicago O’Hare International Airport.”
Another Twitter user posted: “An emergency evacuation slide falls from an airplane [‘thinking face’ emoji]… seems like that kinda defeats the whole purpose of such a contraption.”
A similar incident took place in December 2019, when a six-foot-long evacuation slide fell from a Delta Air Lines flight onto the home of Massachusetts resident Wenhuan Huang.
Speaking to the Boston Herald, a neighbor said: “If it had hit us, we would have been dead—it’s that heavy. And if we didn’t die—I hate to think of the alternative.”
Also in 2019, a woman opened an emergency exit door onboard a plane that was due to fly from the U.K. to Pakistan, thinking it was the toilet, resulting in the exit slide being automatically deployed and the flight being delayed by seven hours.
In May 2023, several passengers required hospital treatment after a passenger forced open a door on a flight to the South Korean city of Daegu while it was in the air. Video filmed inside showed powerful winds lashing passengers, and a 33-year-old man was later arrested.