By Jamie Yuccas CBS News December 6, 2018, 6:34 PM Plane goes off the runway in California, narrowly avoiding tragedy

BURBANK, Calif. — A Southwest Airlines jet came to a skidding stop Thursday during heavy rain at Burbank Airport near Los Angeles. If not for concrete blocks designed to crumble and slow down the plane, the flight could have ended much more violently.

The Oakland-to-Burbank 737 stopped just a few feet from a fence and a highway. It took a few minutes for the 112 passengers to realize what happened.

"We started skidding, and then he started braking even more aggressively and then he like, 'braked!'" Yvonne Dorr said.

"There was a point where the tail end of the plane started to drift a little bit to the right so it felt like it was loosening up a little bit and I think that's when people started to get a little bit worried," said Josh Novarez.

The Southwest jet wound up in a soft sand-like material placed at the end of the paved runways. It's designed to prevent planes from overshooting even further.

The material wasn't in place nearly two decades ago on the exact same runway when a Southwest jet careened off the runway, injuring several passengers.

"That's what this particular device is designed to do — stop it from going into highways, stop it from going into the water, stopping it from leaving the airport," said CBS News aviation consultant Mark Rosenker.

28 Photos

Latest air travel nightmares

See some of the grueling flight-related situations that passengers have dealt with

Latest air travel nightmares