updated 07/08/2013 AT 2:30 PM ET
•originally published 07/08/2013 AT 1:00 PM ET
From his seat in row 32, Benjamin Levy looked out the window as the plane he was traveling on, a Boeing 777 – one of the safest aircrafts in the world – prepared to land.
Levy is a businessman and frequent flyer, so he knew something was wrong when Asiana Airlines’s Flight 214 out of Seoul began to approach the San Francisco International Airport runway on Saturday just before noon. The jetliner was too low, he recalled to The New York Times.
“The pilot put the gas full steam, and we tipped back up – he went full throttle to regain a bit of altitude,” Levy said in an interview from his home. “We were so close to the water, the water got sprayed up. There were walls of water beside the window – before we started hitting earth.”