Pilot in Jamaica crash returns home, speaks

By Chuck Weber

JUNO BEACH, FL (WFLX)-He flew the jetliner that skidded off a runway in Jamaica, and snapped into pieces. Now he's back home in Juno Beach.

Friday we caught up Captain Brian Cole, spending Christmas with family and friends. Because the incident is under investigation, the American Airlines pilot is limited in what he can say.

"It was an incredible experience," stated Cole. "But everybody's home safe. So we're going to move on."

Cole's plane was coming from Washington D.C., and Miami. Upon landing in Kingston, Jamaica, Cole and his crew encountered heavy rain. The aircraft hit the runway hard and kept going, skidding through a fence. The aircraft ended up only feet from the Caribbean Sea.  The fuselage had broken into at least three pieces.

Of 154 on board, more than 40 went to hospitals with broken bones and other injuries-- but none was life- threatening. The Associated Press captured a shot of Captain Cole pushing a passenger in wheelchair. As of Christmas Eve, only six passengers remained in the hospital in Jamaica.

"I have the highest praise for everybody that was with me, my first officers and flight attendants," said Cole. "The job that was done, the professionalism that took place was really great. For everybody to be home with their families at this time, over the holidays, it's the best way to be."

Reports earlier in the week indicated Captain Cole suffered a broken arm, but he said it was only bruised. "I'm pretty banged up," said Cole, "but everything's going to be okay. No broken bones."