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As airplane bore in, they ran for their lives

Published October 13, 2006

NEW YORK - A woman in a high-rise apartment hit by New York Yankee Cory Lidle's plane survived after her housekeeper saw the aircraft coming and rushed in from another room to get her out, a relative of the resident said Thursday.

Flames from the deadly crash scorched Ilana Benhuri's back and legs but she "has very good spirits," said her husband, Dr. Parviz Benhuri.

"She was in the same room that the nose of the plane hit," said her brother-in-law Dr. Marc Benhuri. "I'm telling you it's an absolute miracle that she's alive. I honestly believe that God was sitting on her shoulder."

Ilana Benhuri, 50, was doing paperwork at her desk when she heard the small plane outside her 30th-floor apartment, Marc Benhuri said. The housekeeper, Eveline Reategue, saw the plane coming and rushed into the other room to get her, he said.

The plane crashed into the apartment as they were trying to get out, Marc Benhuri said. Lidle and his flight instructor, Tyler Stanger, were killed.

"I took my boss (by the arm), and we ran out," Reategue, who wasn't seriously injured, told the New York Post. "The floor was on fire, and it looked like it was going to cave in."

The women closed the door of the room where the plane hit, then closed the front door and ran down a fire escape to safety, Marc Benhuri said. Closing the front door of the fiery apartment probably saved their lives, he said.

Ilana Benhuri was hospitalized in fair condition Thursday; her brother-in-law said she was in a lot of pain and wearing a neck brace but was conscious and able to talk.

"She ran fast. That was a miracle. I don't know how she made it," said Parviz Benhuri, Marc's younger brother.

Twenty-two other people hurt in the crash, mostly firefighters, had been treated and released since Wednesday, said John Rogers, spokesman for New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

[Last modified October 13, 2006, 01:03:12]

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