Thursday, January 15, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson

So I'm driving down the West Side Highway, with Register columnist Dave Solomon in the passenger seat, and suddenly a couple of police cars drive by. We didn't think much of it, until a few more whizzed by, along with some ambulances. This raised our eyebrows, thinking there might be an accident (and with it, plenty of traffic) ahead. Then, we see a couple of cars going in reverse in the breakdown lane to take an exit up around 96th Street or so.

So Solomon, wise as his name would indicate, suggests we take the exit, too, fearing a traffic jam. I take it, and it was a good idea. Obviously, it wasn't a traffic jam ahead – it was a plane crash in the Hudson River that was causing the traffic and commotion. We never quite got a glimpse of the plane, since we were off the highway, but longtime UConn statistician Andy Prince did.

Prince was driving south down the West Side Highway at about 3:30 p.m. today, with Mike Haglof (Jim Calhoun's nephew), Prince's nephew Michael Goldberg and friend Carl Martin also in the car.

We'll let Prince, a New Britain resident, tell the rest:

"Hagloff noticed a plane was relatively low and thought it was strange. It looked to be a commuter jet, we thought it wasn't that big at that point. It was making an unfettered descent, we noticed there was no landing gear down. It descended to above the water, then re-ascended another couple of hundred yards in front of us, and then descended straight in, like it was landing on the water, and made a very modest splash. It was as if (the pilot) had done such a good job, like he was landing on a tarmac and there was no problem. The plane landed around 40th Street, we were at 60th Street and at that site within three minutes with traffic. When we got past where they were, the ferries were already out and we could see the passengers already standing on the wing, being evacuated."

"At first I thought maybe it was a training, because it looked like he was descending and maybe practicing up and down. Then my nephew thought maybe it was like Corey Lidle, in a private plane. But when we saw him go up, go down and go back in, we knew that was not right. It was not a sea plane. The splash it made was so minimal, it was incredible to see what he had done. You could tell he had done it on purpose."

"We didn't think there would be any survivors. We parked a car and went to a restaurant and watched it on TV. When they announced there were all survivors, we were shocked. The plane wasn't going at a ridiculous rate of speed, you could tell he had already slowed down, but it still landed on water. I had never seen anything like that. It was frightening. We thought we had seen 50, 75 people (die).

"We thought we had seen a disaster, it ended up being a miracle."

Wow.

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