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A Toast To Life 5 Years After The "Miracle On The Hudson"

posted 15 Jan 2014, 17:08 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 15 Jan 2014, 17:09 ]

The survivors of US Airway's flight 1549, which made an emergency landing on the Hudson River in 2009, mark the five-year anniversary with a toast to life.

 NEW YORKNEW YORKUNITED STATES  (NBC) -  The crew and passengers of the "Miracle on the Hudson" marked the five year anniversary of their survival with a toast to life in New York City on Wednesday (January 15).

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On January 15, 2009, pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger landed a distressed US Airways jetliner on the Hudson River, saving all 155 on board in what experts called a masterful job under life-or-death pressure.

Sullenberger brought the Airbus A320 to a textbook emergency landing on the river between New York City and New Jersey in what New York Gov. David Patersoncalled "a miracle on the Hudson."

The emergency landing happened moments after the plane lost power in both engines when it struck a flock of birds shortly after taking off from New York's LaGuardia airport.

A flight attendant broke a leg, but most people were unharmed except for suffering from the cold. Ferries rescued passengers from the wings, where they stood in 20 degree Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius) weather, their feet dipping into water of 41 degrees F (5 C).

Five years later, Sullenberger, now retired, returned to New York and the Hudson River to thank those who helped to rescue flight 1549's crew and passengers.

"Five years ago this afternoon, 155 people faced a sudden, unexpected challenge. Many people came together, did their jobs exceedingly well to give us such a wonderful outcome," he said during a news conference at the New York Waterway Ferry Terminal in New York.

"We have much to be thankful for. Much was saved that day. And it's the efforts of, not only the crew, the rescuers and the first responders that everyone survived. Had even one person not survived, I personally couldn't have celebrated any of this," he continued.

Flight 1549 passenger Barry Leonard also thanked the rescue workers.

"I wanted to thank everyone here for that. Because without these people, my children would not have had a father. My mom wouldn't have had a son... So thank you very much."

To honor the five years since that miraculous day, Sullenberger, the flight's co-pilotJeffrey Skiles, passengers and rescuers all gathered in a New York Waterway ferry to raise a champagne "toast to life", as they called it.

"It's a much nicer day today. So it was very nice. I can tell you that. I still remember that cold from five years ago. So this was a really welcomed event today," said Skiles after the toast.

Passenger Eileen Shleffar said, "I think that is totally etched in my... it becomes part of your soul, I think, because it was so dramatic and it had such an impact and the feelings were so intense and the event itself was so impossible. It was so impossible, it was almost surreal. So we are very grateful and just happy to be able to celebrate a fifth year."

Passenger Denise Lockie added, "Kind of an amazing feeling. It's filled with emotion. It's filled with my new family, my relatively new family I've known for five years. It's a day I'll never forget."

The group said they plan to continue their celebrations well into the night.