The wheels of the Delta jet touched down on the LaGuardia Airport runway and for a brief moment, all seemed routine on the morning flight from Atlanta -- and then it wasn't.
"The landing was fine until we needed to slow down," said Daniel Wildstein, 51, of Marietta, Georgia, a passenger on Flight 1086 Thursday.
The twin-engine plane with 127 people aboard lurched to the left, then the right, Wildstein said. It veered off the runway and slid out of control, seemingly unable to slow down, according to several passengers who rode out the harrowing slide strapped into their seats.See alsoEditorial: Relief and questions
"It felt like we skidded for maybe five, six football fields," Wildstein said.
Frightening as it was before the 75-ton plane finally stopped -- its nose resting in a snow bank just feet from the icy Flushing Bay -- inside the cabin, there was an odd sort of quiet, passengers said.
Some said prayers in their seats, a few children and adults cried, but if anyone on board went into panic mode, they did it in silence.
"It was quite scary and caused people to reflect . . . some people cried, obviously other people prayed," passenger Jared Faellaci, 42, of Cobb County, Georgia, told WABC-TV. Wildstein said that as the plane skidded toward the bay, "it was like a movie where you're going toward a cliff and you're stopping."
There were "a few 'oh my Gods' " he said, but "you'd be shocked. Nobody was yelling or screaming."
Sam Stern told CNN he was sitting next to the emergency exit over one of the plane's wings. He said he opened the exit door after getting instructions from the flight crew and "was the first one out."
Stern said the landing "seemed normal to me. . . . It was just at that moment of impact, at that moment of contact, that we started to lose control. I had no fear and I thought everything was normal until that point."
Roxanne Joffe told CNN she was across the aisle from Stern and over a damaged wing, closer to the bay.
"I was sitting at the ruptured wing so I felt like we were actually in the water," she said.
Giants tight end Larry Donnell started the day in Atlanta, taking the flight north with the intention of signing a free-agent tender offer the team made him Wednesday.
Donnell's day ended with him feeling "blessed to be safe and sound," according to a statement released by the Giants.
"I feel fine physically and hopefully all the other passengers did not have any significant injuries," Donnell, 26, said in the statement.
Earlier in the day, he posted a video and a photograph of the crash scene on his Instagram account.
The images showed the plane's nose poking through a fence and passengers being led off the plane, trudging to safety through freshly fallen snow.
With William Murphy,
Tom Rock and AP