Sally Field and Her Family Live Through a Frightening Airplane Crash on Takeoff from Aspen

updated 11/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

For Sally Field, the flight a week ago from Aspen, Colo., where she has a vacation home, to Burbank, Calif., should have been routine. But the private jet carrying Sally, her husband, Alan Greisman, their 11-month-old son, Sam, and Sally's mother went out of control on takeoff, swerved off the runway and plowed into two other jets. Though the plane, owned by Merv Griffin, was apparently a total loss, the crew of three and the Field family members all escaped serious injury. The cause of the crash was still unknown when Field, who suffered bruised ribs and a wrenched back, spoke with correspondent Lois Armstrong.

I'm deathly frightened to fly, so I was buckled up real tight. I had Sam in my lap, and I had him really tucked in. I could feel when we picked up speed for takeoff. Then the plane started swerving in huge, big turns, and we knew we were in trouble. I looked at my mother, and our eyes said, "Oh my God!" All I was thinking was, "Hold on to Sam! Hold on to Sam!" I didn't care if I broke every bone in my body. Nothing flashed before my eyes except Sam.

I thought we were going to flip over. When we hit the first plane, that slowed us down, but we were still going fast. And then we went broadside into the second plane. It all seemed to take a very long time—especially not knowing what was coming at the end.

When we crashed, it knocked the wind out of me, but the seat belt held and caught me in my ribs and stomach. I thought I'd broken my ribs. The belt saved our lives, but I thought I'd crushed Sam to death. My arms still ache from holding on to him so tight. But my body must have received his blow; he had no whiplash at all.

My husband started yelling, "Get out! Get out!" One pilot, who had a gash on his leg, came out and pulled open the emergency door, which had jammed. We had to jump six or eight feet off the wing, which was spurting aviation fuel over us. I was holding Sam, and he cried a little on impact, but that's the only time.

We started running away from the plane. We were reeking of fuel. It makes no sense that the plane didn't blow up. It makes no sense that we're still alive, and I have to live with that feeling. It makes you very aware that some things must be planned and some not.

I've been so exhausted since it happened. During the daytime I think about it when I rock the baby to sleep. It will take me a long time to get the noise of that crash out of my head.

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