December 23, 2008
A man who survived a Denver plane crash over the weekend provided one of the first eyewitness accounts of the accident with the help of Twitter and a mobile phone.
Mike Wilson was riding in the Continental Airlines Boeing 737 when it ran off the runway at Denver International Airport on Saturday during takeoff and plunged into a ravine. Despite a fire that burned the entire right side of the plane, no one was killed, but at least 58 people were injured. Using his mobile phone, Wilson started posting short blog entries on Twitter, a popular blogging service, as soon as he was safely in Continental Airlines' presidential club. "Holy f---ing s---, I was just in a plane crash," Wilson said in his first post. Wilson described the takeoff as normal "when we suddenly veered off." Wilson described a "sudden bottom-dropped-out feeling and then a jolt" when the plane dropped into the ravine. "I believe it was after the jolt that the right engine, which was near my row, caught fire," he said. "By the time the plane stopped we were burning pretty well and I think I could feel the heat even through the bulkhead and window." Wilson and the other passengers escaped through an exit door and scrambled down the wing on the left side of the plane. Wilson's complaints included losing his glasses and not being able to get a drink from Continental. "You have your wits scared out of you, drag your butt out of a flaming ball of wreckage, and you can't even get a vodka-tonic." Wilson was en route to Houston when the accident occurred and arrived at his destination the next day on a replacement flight, where he sat "as close to the exit as possible." Wilson's 15 minutes of fame included interviews with NBC and Fox News. "This has been the experience of a lifetime in more ways than one," he said. Twitter, which is typically used to describe more mundane life experiences, is among the fastest growing social networking sites. In September, the number of users soared by 343% from the same month a year ago to 2.4 million, according to Nielsen Online. As a quick communications tool, Twitter has also helped play an active role in breaking news, including the April announcement by a student who used Twitter to alert his friends that he was arrested and taken to an Egyptian jail from which he was later released. Twitter also was instrumental in getting the news out about the April 2007 Virginia Tech shootings and the October 2007 Southern California wildfires.
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