Emergency slide falls from United plane, lands in backyard near Chicago's O'Hare Airport

ByEric Horng WABC logo
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Emergency slide falls from plane, lands in yard near O'Hare Airport
The slide hit a house, causing damage to the roof shingles, downspout and a kitchen window screen.

CHICAGO -- A slide fell from a plane into a backyard near Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Monday afternoon, police said.

Chicago police said it happened on North Chester Avenue on the city's Northwest Side. No one was injured.

Patrick Devitt, the homeowner who made the discovery, said he dragged the slide, which fell from a United 767, from his backyard to the front.

Devitt said his son and father-in-law were inside their home, having lunch in the kitchen, when they heard a loud "boom" around 12:15 p.m., when Devitt was on his way home from work.

The slide had hit the house, causing damage to the roof shingles, downspout and a kitchen window screen. Devitt's father-in-law then walked outside, saw the slide and alerted his son-in-law.

"When it's all stretched out, like, it's a little jumbled up. I'm sure, in the picture, from when we dragged it out, it's larger than a small car. It's a very, very big piece of equipment that fell," Devitt said.

They called 911, and the FAA arrived within 30 minutes.

The FAA said a maintenance crew at O'Hare discovered an emergency slide missing from a United Airlines Boeing 767 that had just landed safely after a flight from Switzerland, and it appears to be the slide in question. In fact, that homeowner said two United representatives on Monday afternoon came by the house to retrieve the slide.

This isn't the first time a Boeing 767 lost its slide, though it is rare. It happened in 2016 in Phoenix near Sky Harbor Airport and again in 2019 in Boston near Logan Airport.

How this slide fell off that plane is still being investigated.

"This is really going to trigger some pretty major investigations. This was not a bird strike or something that's routine. It's a rare instance that could have caused fatalities on the ground or even affected the stability of that airplane when it was landing," said DePaul University Professor Joe Schwieterman.

Devitt said he's just glad nobody was injured.

"I'm stunned a little bit. I'm just glad that everybody is safe and okay. Just, just seeing that in my backyard, like wow. This really happened. It fell off of an airplane and landed in our backyard," Devitt said.

A spokesperson for Boeing referred all questions to United and the FAA. United said it is working with its team to figure out exactly what happened.

The FAA is handling the investigation.

Authorities did not immediately provide further information.