A woman who was aboard an American Airlines jet that made an emergency landing Tuesday told News 8 that passengers were praying and crying before the aircraft touched down about midway through its scheduled flight from Port-of-Spain in the Eastern Caribbean to Miami.
Cierra Hossle was among the 175 people on Flight 2282 when smoke started filling the cabin Tuesday morning.
Hossle said flight attendants instructed passengers to don life vests and prepare for a possible landing in the sea.
"Your mind goes through the worst thing ever," she said. "You're in the middle of the ocean. When smoke comes in that thick, you think the plane is on fire and we are going down."
Hossle said about six to seven minutes after smoke appeared, the plane made an "abrupt" landing at the international airport on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, the tiny Caribbean territory's most populous island, and was towed to the gate.
The pilot reported a fire in the cockpit, a smoking engine, and a loss of fuel, according to Turks and Caicos officials.
A spokeswoman for American Airlines disputed the report of a fire, saying the jet made the emergency landing due to a "mechanical issue related to one of the engines" and an indication of "low oil."
The British Caribbean territory's disaster management and emergencies department said there were no injuries.
The flight was traveling from Trinidad and Tobago's capital of Port-of-Spain to Miami when the pilot requested clearance for an emergency landing.
Hossle was preparing to catch a flight home to Denver late Tuesday after a three-week vacation to Trinidad. "A lot of people were praying... some were crying," she told News 8, adding that "it got pretty serious, pretty quick."
Hossle credits American Airlines flight attendants, calling them "amazing" in the situation as they kept everyone calm.
She's happy to be heading home with an unlikely vacation souvenir. Hossle kept the yellow life vest she wore as the emergency played out in the sky over the Caribbean, thankful that she never needed to use it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.