Miracle On Hudson’ Survivors Gather A Year Later


miracle-on-the-hudsonA year after 155 people lived through the water landing of an incapacitated US Airways flight in the middle of the frigid Hudson River, many of them gathered today to celebrate the anniversary of their unlikely survival.

A crowd of about 100 applauded as Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, smiling and wearing his pilot’s uniform, arrived for a breakfast. Rescuers were thanked at the event, which launched a day of activities.

“We’re so happy to have so much to celebrate. We have so much to be grateful for,” Sullenberger said.

“I’ve long believed that life is such a precious and fleeting commodity that it not only deserves to be protected, but celebrated,” added Sully. “We have much to celebrate, much to be grateful for. On January 15, 2009, we had a remarkably good day.”

About one-third of the jet’s passengers 155 passengers were at Friday’s breakfast, held high in a Park Avenue skyscraper. They have gotten to know each other well, some better than others.

There were  reunions and private moments of reflection as they recall the initial terror of that day.

Chimed in Zych: “We don’t take anything for granted. We celebrated the one-month anniversary, two, three, four. We’ve been waiting for this day.”

Sullenberger said that to date he has met two-thirds of all the passengers and hoped to meet all of them eventually.

American Red Cross of Greater New York CEO Theresa Bischoff introduced Gov. David Paterson at the gathering, crediting him with coining the phrase “Miracle on the Hudson.”

“It was the happiest day I have spent or ever will spend as governor,” Paterson said.

Sullenberger’s co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles called all the rescuers, from the fire and police departments to ferry and boat operators, “the true heroes of that day.”

Skiles then made a $5,000 donation to the American Red Cross for relief efforts in Haiti. He made the check in the name of the victims of the fatal crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Buffalo, N.Y. last February.

Bank of America, who had 20 employees on the flight, presented the Red Cross with a $21,549 donation for Haiti relief. Mayor Michael Bloomberg cited the Haiti earthquake, saying, “it’s great that an organization like the Red Cross … is always there.”

Later, Sullenberger was expected to join other crew and passengers to revisit the site where he deftly set down his Airbus A320 on Jan. 15, 2009, after a flock of geese disabled its engines.

In the afternoon, they’ll meet with boat crews and other rescuers to board one of the passenger ferries that plucked them from the icy water. Together, they’ll return to the place where they made their escape.

At 3:31 p.m., the moment of impact, they’ll raise glasses in a toast to life.

The return to the water has brought up mixed feelings for some of the survivors. But many are eager to reunite with the others who shared in the harrowing experience. Some say they consider the group to be a kind of family.

For journalists, covering the story was a breath of fresh air. In an industry stained on a daily basis by reports of horrific crimes and tales of the unthinkable, the “Miracle on the Hudson” was a spectacle that New Yorkers will certainly never forget, and a story that brought hope and happiness to many across the world during an otherwise stressful year full of hardships.

{The Sun News/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}