DALLAS — It's a text message that will make your blood run cold. It reads:
"I love you... make sure my kids know that forever... problem in the plane... full of smoke."
It came from Ashlee Rogers' husband Casey aboard a Spirit Airlines flight that had just taken off from Dallas/Fort Worth International airport bound for Atlanta.
"I sent that text thinking it was my last," Casey said.
“I think I sat there for a second, thinking, 'This isn't real,'” Ashlee told WFAA. “'He's joking; this is not happening.'”
Ashlee was at home in Krum on Tuesday when she received the chilling text. She said she had a strange feeling that morning that something wasn’t right, but she shook it off.
Her fears were confirmed around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Her husband had been in the air for a half hour when he sent her the text that reads like a final goodbye.
“So I called — no answer. Texted him — no answer. Texted him again — no answer,” she said. “Three to four minutes apart between the messages I was sending with no responses."
The worst 30 minutes of Ashlee's life followed. Her husband’s next response promised he'd always be with her.
“My initial thought was, 'How do I tell our three children that their dad's not coming home?'” she said.
"I said my prayer and I was pretty much calm and at peace after that," Casey said. "It worked out."
A few minutes later, after traveling only about 90 miles from DFW Airport, Flight 165 circled back and landed safely.
Casey called and told his wife he had heard two explosions, and saw flames along the side of the plane.
He said the plane shook violently, and the cabin was full of smoke.
Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said Wednesday that shortly after takeoff, the captain saw an indication of a possible mechanical issue. She confirmed there was smoke in the cabin and an engine shut down, but said there was no fire.
The National Transportation Safety Board is calling the incident an "uncontained" engine failure, meaning that parts of the engine likely flew in all directions, and could have hit other parts of the aircraft.
The NTSB is sending a small team of engine experts, and it did have to recall some lab workers who analyze voice and data recorders who were otherwise furloughed as part of the government shutdown.
Casey Rogers and the other 144 passengers boarded a different plane Tuesday night and arrived in Atlanta later that evening.
He will return home to his family on Monday, and that's when his wife's blood pressure will return to normal.
“In my replies back to him, I never once said 'goodbye.' I couldn't wrap my brain around telling the father of our children goodbye,” Ashlee said.