All rescued from Hudson River plane crash

Jan. 15, 2009 at 8:18 PM   |   0 comments

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NEW YORK, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A US Airways pilot ditched a disabled jetliner in New York's Hudson River Thursday, saving all 150 passengers and five crew members aboard, officials said.

Dozens of people were taken to hospitals for treatment of injuries.

Flight 1549, an Airbus A320, from New York LaGuardia to Charlotte, N.C., went down seven minutes after takeoff at 3:03 p.m. after losing both engines. ABC reported the plane got no higher than 3,200 feet and WNBC-TV, New York, said the plane cleared the George Washington Bridge by 900 feet before landing on its belly in the water.

Pilots union officials said the pilot, identified by CNN as Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, reported two bird strikes to air traffic controllers, ABC said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a news conference the pilot did a "masterful" job of landing the plane.

"We think all got out safely," Bloomberg said. "I say we think because some were taken to New Jersey, some were picked up by New York Waterways boats, some were picked up by Circle Cruise Line, some were picked up by Coast Guard and PD (police department) and FDNY (Fire Department of New York) boats. … There's no reason to believe this wasn't something we should thank God for that everyone got out safely."

He said there was "absolutely no" indication of terrorism.

A team of National Transportation Safety Board investigators was scheduled to arrive Thursday evening.

Gov. David Paterson called the incident "a miracle on the Hudson."

The plane, which was nearly full, landed in the river near 57th Street near the restored aircraft carrier Intrepid. The plane remained afloat, enabling ferry boats that surrounded it to get everyone off, police said.

Rescued passengers told reporters the pilot calmly prepared them for the landing and once the plane was down, the crew herded them out onto the wings. Bloomberg said the pilot walked the length of the plane twice after everyone was off to make sure no one was left behind.

Rescued passenger Jeff Kolodjay of Norwalk, Conn., said an engine blew out three minutes into the flight, filling the fuselage with smoke. The pilot then circled around.

Kolodjay said the pilot "knew we were going down."

"The pilot said, 'Brace for impact,' and I thought, 'Aw (expletive). It's going to be ugly,'" said Kolodjay, who was on a golfing trip.

He said women and children were allowed off first, debarking onto rafts and then transferring to the surrounding ferries as water started coming in through the rear of the plane.

Kolodjay said the pilot did an incredible job.

"We hit the water pretty hard," he said, adding, "Kudos to him (the pilot). Good job. … Hats off to the pilot."

WNBC reported four people were taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, suffering from hypothermia, including a flight attendant who suffered a fracture, and hospital officials said they had been told to prepare for 10 more. Other survivors were taken elsewhere, some to hospitals in New Jersey. Temperatures hovered around 21 degrees and the water temperature was reported at 41 degrees at the time of the crash.

Joyce Cordero, a producer for CBS's "60 Minutes," said she could see the plane from her office window.

"It looked like a movie scene," Cordero said.

US Airways Chairman Doug Parker told a hastily called news conference the airline would cooperate fully with the investigation.

Andreas Sappok of Circle Cruise Line told WNBC, the plane was towed to shore by a large tug and remained tied up opposite Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan.

Sappok said everyone appeared calm.

Rescue worker Janis Krums said the coordination among the ferry crews was incredible.

"It was pretty impressive," Krums told WNBC.

"We started taking people from the wing to the ferry and gave them jackets to try to get them warm."

Sean Court said he watched the plane coming down from his office window. He said the descent was gradual and it looked like the pilot was fully in control.

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