A business meeting that ended early...
That’s how it all began on January 15, 2009 for Dave Sanderson, a top-notch tech sales manager who spent more time on the road than he wanted, away from his wife and four children. He had finished work sooner than anticipated and wanted to get home. It was the least he could do to make up for the time he spent working two jobs trying to make a better life for them all. He called his travel agent, who was able to procure a seat for him on an earlier flight departing from New York’s LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, North Carolina.
Sanderson boarded, moved down the aisle to seat 15A, and fastened his seatbelt for takeoff. The flight had been delayed as an earlier blizzard in the area cleared. Now it was cold and bright and clear, a perfect day for flying.
A few moments later, what happened to US Airways Flight 1549 was to become known around the world as The Miracle on the Hudson. On its initial climb, a flock of Canada geese collided with the Airbus 320, crippling both engines. Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger knew he couldn’t make it to any of the nearby airports, and there was only one option left: to attempt a water landing and put the plane down safely in the Hudson River.
The passengers heard the Captain’s words over the PA system -- “Brace for impact” – and then the plane crashed. In his window seat, Sanderson ascertained how quickly he could get to an exit as the plane started taking on water. But then he heard his late mother’s voice in his head: “If you do the right thing, God will take care of you.”
So he did the right thing, staying behind to help people who needed help get off the plane first. As one of the last passengers on the plane, Sanderson realized that if the airbus sank, he might be sucked down with it. He had no other choice but to take a leap of faith...on this day, literally and figuratively.
Sanderson plunged into the frigid 36-degree waters of the Hudson, and started to swim to the nearest rescue ferry heading toward the scene. As the last of his strength ebbed, he was pulled aboard, taken ashore, and rushed to the hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia and an eye injury from exposure to jet fuel.
Very little time had elapsed from crash to rescue to his trip to the hospital, where the medical staff was concerned that he might die. “It took only 30 minutes for my life to change forever,” Sanderson said. He explains it in the simplest of terms: an extraordinary event that changed the life of one ordinary person forever.