The Miracle on the Hudson could have very well been The Tragedy on the Hudson had it not been for the hero pilot called “Sully.”
Survivors, eyewitnesses, rescuers and experts alike all hailed the expertise, bravery and cool of Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, a hero whose calm saved 155 people, including a little baby, from certain death
Sullenberger is from Danville, in Contra Costa county.
"He is the consummate pilot," his wife, Lorrie Sullenberger, told The New York Post of her hubby, who is an US Air Force Academy grad who flew F-4 fight planes while in the Air Force. "He is about performing that airplane to the exact precision to which it is made."
She told the paper that her "body won't stop shaking," but after speaking with him said, "I think he's fine. "I'm relieved."
Lorrie spoke to reporters in the their driveway Friday morning.
After tearing up a bit, she said, "We are grateful that everyone is off the airplane safely."
She said the airline told her not to talk about any specifics about what happened.
Standing beside the couple's two daughters she said they were, "very proud of dad."
She said he would not be home for several days and that he told her that he was feeling better today.
"It was a shock."
As for hearing all the praise from everyone from passengers to the President of the United States, the Lorraine said that was "a little weird."
Sullenberger, 58, described himself in an online professional profile as a 29-year employee of US Airways. He started his own consulting business, Safety Reliability Methods Inc., two years ago.
The pilot, who has worked for US Airways since 1980, gently touched down plane on the icy Hudson River waters, miraculously delivering all on board to safety.
"We've had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we have had a miracle on the Hudson," Gov. David Paterson said.
One victim suffered two broken legs, a paramedic said, but there were no other reports of serious injuries.
The plane, an Airbus A320 that had taken off minutes earlier from LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte, N.C., was submerged up to its windows in the river when rescuers arrived in Coast Guard vessels and ferries. Some passengers waited in water up to their knees, standing on the wing of the plane for help.
Police drivers had to rescue some of the passengers from underwater, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. Among those on board was one infant who appeared to be fine, the mayor said.
Helen Rodriguez, a paramedic who was among the first to arrive at the scene, said she saw one woman with two broken legs. Fire officials said others were evaluated for hypothermia, bruises and other minor injuries.
The crash took place on a 20-degree day, one of the coldest of the season in New York. State environmental officials estimated the water was 41 degrees.
"It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river, and then making sure everybody got out," Bloomberg said.
Passenger Jeff Kolodjay of Norwalk, Conn., said he heard a single explosion two or three minutes into the flight. He said looked out the left side of the plane and saw one of the engines on fire.
"The captain said, 'Brace for impact because we're going down,' " Kolodjay said. He added: "It was intense. It was intense. You've got to give it to the pilot. He made a hell of a landing."