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US Airways Plane Crashes In Hudson River - Parker Waichman

Jan 16, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP

News headlines everywhere are leading with yesterday’s US Airways emergency crash landing into New York’s icy Hudson River.  The plane collided with a flock of birds and was forced to emergency land in the waters near Manhattan, said Newsday.  It seems that the collision blew both engines, said the San Francisco Gate.

Spokesman Doug Church from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association told the SF Gate that Pilot Chesley Sullenberger contacted the tower and reported a "double bird strike,”—which means that two engines were down—and saying that he needed to return to LaGuardia.  The controller told Sullenberger to land at an airport in Teterboro, New Jersey, which was closer.  It remains unknown why the pilot did not divert to Teterboro and Church said there was no mayday call from the plane's transponder, reported the SF Gate.

On board Flight 1549 were 150 passengers—one, an infant—and five crew members who were making their way from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Charlotte, North Carolina.  According to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, everyone on board survived the crash, said Newsday.  Officials reported that 73 people were taken to New York and New Jersey hospitals for hypothermia, broken bones, cuts, and/or bruises. The Weehawken, New Jersey ferry terminal quickly became an emergency medical center that treated 60 passengers, most from hypothermia, said Newsday.

Before deplaning, pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, checked the airplane twice, he told Bloomberg, said Newsday.  Passengers described the experience as harrowing but orderly, said Newsday.

One passenger, Fred Berretta, told CNN he was returning home from a business trip when he heard what he described as loud banging sound following take-off, saying that, "People started praying and then there was a lot of silence and the realization that we were going down was hard to take….  The pilot told us to prepare for impact."

Berretta and some others deplaned via one of the wings, which was partly submerged in the river and becoming “overcrowded,” adding that, "It was cold. I think the initial thought was to see if the plane was sinking or if it would float.  Our feet were pretty much in the water," he told CNN, said Newsday.

News reports describe people being pulled from the water by police divers, passengers suffering from hypothermia, and others bleeding and suffering from broken bones.  "We're worried about heavy exposure," said Dr. Gabriel Wilson, associate medical director of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center’s emergency room. "They were immersed in water up to their waist in the plane,” according to Newsday.  "We're very concerned about traumatic injuries on top of hypothermia," said Dr. Chris McCarthy, EMS director at St. Vincent's.

Alberto Panero, a passenger interviewed on CNN, said: "I actually grabbed one of the seats and some people grabbed the inflatable ones.”  Survivor Jeff Kolodjay said,
"The left engine just blew" and described how people hit their heads on the ceiling at impact.  "People were bleeding all over the place," he said.  "A couple of ladies got some pretty bad leg injuries.  "At first, it was chaos," he added, reported Newsday.

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