Miracle on the Hudson survivor shares his final thoughts - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Plane crash survivor shares thoughts after "bracing for impact"

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Millions watched when US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River four years ago.

Dave Sanderson wasn't supposed to be on that flight that January afternoon. He said he had an early morning and when a spot opened up on an earlier flight, he took the opportunity to get home to his family that much sooner.  

That decision changed his life. 

"I thought this is it, I've had my run and this is it, game over," Sanderson said.

Dave says he'll never forget three simple words that warned him the plane was going down.
"The captain came on and he said brace for impact," he said.

But it wasn't chaos among more than 150 passengers on board.
"It was stone quiet and that's the most amazing this about this whole thing I share with people. No one said a word on this plane the entire time. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop," Sanderson said.

The plane hit the freezing water between 80 and 120 miles per hour. Water rushed in, waist deep in some areas.

But when passengers realized they weren't completely submerged, they began filing out the emergency exits and on to the wings. 

Dave said throughout the controlled chaos he immediately thought of something his mother had repeated to him.  

"If you do the right thing, God will take care of you. And to me the right thing was to take care of other people first," he said.

So he began helping others out the exits. Dave was stuck in the icy water for seven minutes and was the last passenger inside the plane.

"People ask me how it was like on the wings, I never got on the wings, I couldn't get out," he said.
Then he did the unthinkable.  

"I never thought that I'd have to swim for my life, but I did. And that's when I jumped in the river and started swimming," he said.

Dave was treated at a New Jersey hospital for severe hypothermia.

Today he lives with his family in Charlotte, North Carolina. His book "Brace for Impact" titled after the captain's fateful words explains why Dave thinks he was destined to be on that plane.

Dave credits many first responders as well as the American Red Cross for their efforts to help him and his family. 

To learn more about the American Red Cross, click here.

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