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Plane down: US Airways disaster miracle in Hudson River; Update: All survived? Passenger: “Everyone prayed”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 15, 2009 03:49 PM

Scroll for updates…Meet Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger:The hero of Flight 1549...

Photo credit: Janis Krums/Twitter ; hat tip – RadioPatriot and Alley Insider. Krums was on a ferry and took the photo with her iPhone. See also #1549 for real-time Twitter witness accounts.

Awful. Just awful. Coast Guard vessels and ferries have rushed to the scene of a US Airways crash in the Hudson River.

Can’t see them, but cable newsers reporting that passengers are standing on the wings in the freezing waters waiting for help.

WCBS2 in NY reports that about 60 people were on board the aircraft — Flight 1549, an Airbus 380 that took off from La Guardia Airport. Bound for Charlotte NC.

Update: FNC says 146 passengers on board. Pray for them all.

FDNY and EMS on scene.

Water taxis reportedly picking up survivors.

Speculation: The plane hit a flock of birds?

The plane is now being moved by rescue vehicles to the shore. FNC saying all the passengers survived. Amazing.

Screenshot from WCBS:

Consensus: The pilot and crew are miracle workers.

This will be one for the emergency preparedness and emergency responder textbooks.

Update 4:37pm Eastern. Passenger Jeff Kolodjay spoke with media. They smelled gas before crash. Explosion took place. Pilot told them to brace. A mom and baby were among survivors. “Everyone prayed.”

Kolodjay was soaked. Mobbed by reporters. Took forever for someone to offer him a coat.

***

The scenes bring me back to January 13, 1982. Will never forget the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 into the Potomac. Remember Lenny Skutnik? Thank God, today turned out better.

It happens sometimes: Lenny Skutnik will be watching television at home in Lorton, and suddenly, there he is on the screen — years younger — a bystander leaping into the icy Potomac River to rescue a survivor of the 1982 Air Florida crash. He is still embarrassed when people call him a hero for doing that.

“I wasn’t a hero,” he said. “I was just someone who helped another human being. We’re surrounded by heroes. What made this different was that it was caught on film and went all over the world.”

That day — Jan. 13, 1982 — was a tragic one in the Washington area. As a blinding snowstorm gripped the region, Air Florida Flight 90 clipped the 14th Street bridge on takeoff and plunged into the river, killing 74 passengers and four people on the bridge.

Amid the chaos and sadness, several acts of bravery stood out: a helicopter pilot who plucked survivors from the freezing river; a medic who climbed out to grab a victim too weak to help herself; two bystanders who could no longer bear to watch helplessly from the sidelines. One of the injured passengers, later identified as Arland Williams Jr. of Atlanta, drowned after passing the lifeline repeatedly to others.

They saved five people.

“Thanks to the people who got me out that day, I’ve lived another 25 years,” said Joseph Stiley, 67, a retired engineer living in Montana. “I got to see my children grow up, my grandchildren. I even have a great-grandson.”

It could be argued that the Air Florida crash ushered in an era of instantaneous you-are-there news coverage. Local television crews recorded nearly every moment of the rescue. Almost immediately, the chilling images went worldwide, to be repeated for years to come.

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Categories: Flight 1549

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