Elliot Stone, 25, the owner of Elite Martial Arts was part of a delegation of eight, including three other family members, several martial arts students and his girlfriend (now fiancé) who were returning from South Korea where they had tested for black belts and vacationed.
At a press-conference on Tuesday afternoon in Scotts Valley, Stone described the trip as an “awesome, awesome time,” except for the last 10 seconds when the Boeing 777 Jetliner they were passengers in nearly stalled and then partially crashed into a seawall at the beginning of a runway at San Francisco International Airport at 11:27 a.m. Saturday, July 6. The group was finishing an 11-hour journey from Seoul, South Korea on Asiana Flight 214.
Except for some minor nicks and bruises Stone and his group survived the ordeal nearly unscathed.
“I just praise God and am thankful that all eight of us were unharmed,” Stone said.
During the press-conference, Stone, 25, recounted what happened on the plane.
He described that everything appeared to be fine until five or ten seconds before touchdown when it seemed the plane was too low. Then, Stone recounted, “the last couple of second, the engines revved into high gear and the back end lifted up.”
The plane then skidded onto the runway as the tail broke off, and the tail broke off, turning over once. Once the plane came to a stop, emergency doors were opened and passengers began to exit.
“People were calm for the most part,” Stone said. “A little pushing and shoving, but that’s natural in a situation like this.”
In Stone’s group, his brother Oliver Stone and a student Brian Thomson, 45, were separated from the group, exciting toward the front, while the other six, including Stone, his fiancé Elena Jin, 23, her sister Alisa Jin, 16, student David Schimmel, 19, and Stone’s parents Walter, 64, and Cindy Stone, 63, left through a rear exit door as fire and smoke began to erupt inside the plane.
Once outside, the eight found each other, uninjured. They decided to walk toward the back of the plane — about 500 yards away — which had separated from the front of the place to see if they could help.
“A lady starts stumbling (toward us) and yelling,” Elliot Stone said. “We saw her condition and we were running to her and she collapses down to the ground.”
The group found three other people in the rubble that appeared to have had serious injuries, he said.
“We called 9-1-1 and stayed with them. We did the best we could without much medical training.”
Elliot Stone said the martial arts training the group had likely helped them deal with the situation in a calm manner.
The group lost their luggage, including their black belts, and a medal that Schimmel won during an international competition.
Walter Stone said that the fact that his entire family was on the plane has caused him to think about the “what if” scenario.
“When thinking about that, it’s very emotional,” he said.
Elliot Stone and Elena Jin were engaged the day before their return flight home.
“It was not the ideal engagement, but I’m glad we’re all safe,” she told reporters during the press conference.
During the trip, Elliot Stone tested for his 4th degree black belt and Schimmel took first place after winning three matches in a Tae Kwon Do competition.
Elite Martial Arts, Elliot Stone’s business, was closed during the week of July 1 and reopened on Monday, July 8.
In the aftermath, the group’s story has been latched onto by many Bay Area television stations and newspapers. The press-conference in Scotts Valley drew nearly two-dozen television cameras and more reporters. Elliot Stone said the group did not ask for the attention, but felt like it was important to share their story with the community.
“We’re very grateful that we survived and that so many people survived,” said Walter Stone. “We have grief for those injured and the deceased and their families.”