NEW YORK -- Ilana Benhuri remembers her first thought as the
small plane crashed through her apartment window: "I was dead."
She had been baking an apple pie for her 12-year-old daughter's
school, and doing some paperwork at a desk in her four-bedroom
apartment. She never saw the plane carrying New York Yankees
pitcher Cory Lidle but felt it hit.
"The explosion threw me up in the air," Benhuri, 50, said
Friday as she left Weill Cornell-New York Hospital Medical Center
after a month of being treated for severe burns. "I was screaming.
I could not stop screaming. I did not know what it was."
Lidle and flight instructor Tyler Stanger were killed when the
plane slammed nose-first into Benhuri's 30th floor apartment on
Manhattan's Upper East Side on Oct. 11.
The two had been flying north up the East River and were trying
to turn back, officials said.
Benhuri's housekeeper, Eveline Reategue, saw the small plane
coming and rushed into the room to warn Benhuri, but there wasn't
time. As the women tried to run, the plane crashed through the
apartment wall, setting off a fireball.
Benhuri suffered burns below her waist, but she and Reategue
made it down the building's stairs to safety. During her month in
the hospital, Benhuri underwent surgery and multiple skin grafts.
"She's still in pain," said her attorney, Bob Sullivan, who
added that a lawsuit was likely against Lidle's estate.
Authorities have not said which man was at the controls of the
Cirrus SR20. Federal investigators with the National Transportation
Safety Board have said the inability of the plane's pilot to turn
sharply in a light wind was responsible for the crash.