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Suburban Chicago teacher sues Aeroméxico after surviving jetliner crash

Red Cross workers and rescue workers carry an injured person on a stretcher, right, as airline workers, left, walk away from the site where an Aeromexico airliner crashed in a field near the Durango, Mexico, airport on Tuesday. | Red Cross Durango via AP

A north suburban schoolteacher took Mexican airline Aeroméxico to court Thursday, just two days after he survived a jetliner crash that injured 49 people in the northern Mexican state of Durango.

A family vacation came to an abrupt ending for 43-year-old Nestor Martinez, who was on Flight 2431 en route to Mexico City when the aircraft crashed during an attempted takeoff.

Martinez’s four-page lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court alleged the Mexico-based airline was negligent in improperly taking off during a heavy storm that included severe wind, rain and hail.

“You can take off in bad weather, but you have to do it properly, and we will certainly be looking at that aspect of this crash,” said Thomas A. Demetrio, one of the attorneys representing Martinez in the suit.

Representatives from Aeroméxico could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Also among the injured were a Chicago-area priest and another passenger from Chicago. The Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, broke his arm when the plane went down in a field near the state capital’s airport, according to a Chicago Archdiocese spokesman.

Miraculously, there were no deaths reported. The plane’s pilot suffered the most serious injury, a cervical lesion that required surgery. Some people had burns on a quarter of their bodies, said Durango state Health Ministry spokesman Fernando Ros. All were expected to live.

Officials and witnesses differed on whether the plane either fell shortly after takeoff or ran off the runway without really gaining altitude. But they agreed the plane was trying to take off during a storm, with some describing marble-sized hail.

The governor said a gust of wind hit the plane shortly after it took off, causing the jet to lose speed and hit the ground with its left wing, knocking both engines loose. He said the plane skidded into a field in a horizontal position, which allowed escape slides to activate so all passengers and crew could escape before the plane caught fire.

Contributing: Mitchell Armentrout, Associated Press