On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge across the Potomac River in Washington, immediately after takeoff in a severe snowstorm - an incident that would leave 78 people dead, including four on the ground.
Freezing weather gripped much of the East Coast that morning when the Boeing 737-222 airliner took off from Washington National Airport with 79 passengers and crew members. The plane was scheduled to stop in Tampa, Florida, before continuing to Fort Lauderdale.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the captain and crew's reactions to the icy conditions outside put the plane in jeopardy. It failed to get airborne enough to clear the 14th Street Bridge, where it slammed into seven occupied vehicles, killing four people in those vehicles. The plane then lurched into the Potomac, where it sank quickly into the ice-strewn river, leaving only the tail section afloat for survivors to cling to.
About 20 minutes after the plane plunged into the Potomac, a rescue helicopter from the U.S. Park Service arrived and began lifting weakened survivors from the water.Â The nation watched newscasts showing the helicopter hovering over the icy river and rescuers plucking survivors from the fast-sinking wreckage.
Only six passengers were not killed on impact. A blizzard slowed rescue efforts as icy roads and traffic jams kept emergency vehicles from reaching the scene.
One of initial survivors was Arland D. Williams Jr. As rescuers frantically threw lines to survivors, Williams continually handed off the ropes to others.
When rescuers returned a final time to scoop Williams to safety, they found he'd disappeared under the water along with the sinking tail section of the plane. His body was later recovered; the other five in the water survived.
The 14th street bridge across the Potomac river was renamed the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge.
Roger Olian was among the rescuers who jumped in the icy water to help survivors. His story is in the video above.