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Evacuation slide falls into neighbor's yard from plane headed to O'Hare Airport

Emergency slide falls from plane, hits side of house near O'Hare
Emergency slide falls from plane, hits side of house near O'Hare 02:35

CHICAGO (CBS) – It was a quiet lunch hour for a Far Northwest Side family Monday – until it most assuredly wasn't.

A loud boom from the family's backyard turned out to be caused by a United Airlines airplane's emergency slide falling down and hitting the side of their house.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Monday night, United is not yet giving answers as to how this incident happened – as an investigation is under way. Meanwhile, the family that found that big plane part is just glad no one was hurt.

"So it hit right there on the downspout and came straight down," said Patrick Devitt.

Devitt said it was no ordinary object that fell from the sky around noon, and hit the side of their house in the 4700 block of North Chester Avenue – near Lawrence and Cumberland avenues - in the O'Hare community just east of the airport.

An emergency evacuation slide fell off of a plane and into a Northwest Side neighborhood on Monday. Chopper 2 was over the scene in the 4700 block of North Chester Avenue, but by the time it arrived, the chute was gone. But one resident described what happened. Laura Devitt

"It had fallen between the houses, which I learned that my neighbor, it had hit the back of his house," said Joe Grazioso, a neighbor of Devitt's.

"Landed right here in the garden, smashed all these plants – stuff like that," Devitt said.

It was a United Airlines emergency slide, which officials said fell off a 767-200 as it was flying into O'Hare from Switzerland.

Devitt's house is under a flight path, right near O'Hare. But he said this incident is a first.

"A couple of inches, you know, further to the east, and it would have landed right on the house," Devitt said. "So we're very lucky."

They were especially lucky considering Devitt's 2-year-old son was right inside eating lunch with his grandfather. Devitt said he and his father-in-law dragged the 6-foot-by-6-foot crumpled slide into the front yard - and called police and other authorities.

"The lady that we spoke to at the Department of Aviation had said to us, 'Well how do you know it's from an airplane?'" Devitt said. "'Well, because there's a giant slide in our backyard that's bigger than a car, ma'am. Of course, it's from an airplane.'"

Police later came and confirmed it did indeed fall from a plane.

Chicago homeowner describes sight of plane's emergency slide falling onto his yard 01:53

Meanwhile, maintenance workers at O'Hare International Airport discovered the slide was missing from that United flight from Switzerland – which had just landed safely.

"I think we're seeing here there could be a pattern," said transportation expert Joe Schwieterman of DePaul University.

The same thing happened in Boston in 2019. An investigation found an improperly closed door caused an emergency slide to fall from a Delta 767-300 in the Boston suburb of Milton.

Kozlov: "Do you think it warrants a thorough examination of the entire fleet?"

Schwieterman: "More than likely. Given there have been some past concerns about this device, I think we're going to have a full investigation."

That is exactly what United Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration say will happen. Devitt, who is just glad everyone is OK, says he plans to keep in touch with United.

"We'll be in contact with them for sure," Devitt said.

A total of 155 people and 10 crewmembers were on the plane from Zürich. The crewmembers didn't notice the emergency slide was missing until they landed - minutes after it landed in the neighborhood just to the east.

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