Heroic Asiana flight attendant carried passengers to safety on her back

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News

Flight attendant Lee Yoon Hye, 40, is being hailed a hero for carrying passengers to safety just moments before Asiana Flight 214's remains burst into flames.

Lee, who has nearly 20 years' experience on the job, was the last person to exit the wreckage — and even tried to return to the plane to double-check that all of the passengers escaped safely.

An image of her carrying passengers piggyback to safety has recently gone viral.

"She wanted to make sure that everyone was off," Fire chief Joanne Hayes-White told the Associated Press. "She was a hero."

Passengers saw another flight attendant, Jiyeon Kim, do the same.

"She was a hero," passenger Eugene Anthony Rah told the Wall Street Journal. "This tiny little girl was carrying people piggyback, running everywhere, with tears running down her face. She was crying, but she was still so calm and helping people."

"They literally look like Brownie or Girl Scout uniforms. And you see this flight attendant, she’s maybe 120 pounds, piggybacking people off the plane. I'm blown away," Leslie Mayo, an American Airlines flight attendant and spokeswoman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union for AA flight attendants, told TODAY.

Lee didn't even realize she had broken her tailbone until she was being treated for her injuries at a nearby hospital.

"I wasn't really thinking, but my body started carrying out the steps needed for an evacuation," Lee told the Associated Press. "I was only thinking about rescuing the next passenger."

The Wall Street Journal reported that the quick-thinking heroics helped keep the San Francisco plane crash that has so far claimed three lives from being more deadly.

"I'm just grateful I survived," said passenger Rah. "I was 99.9 per cent sure I was going to die. I was hoping for a 0.1 per cent miracle, and I got it."