Early Return from NY Deposition Puts Attorney on Life-and-Death Plane Ride
Posted Jan 15, 2009 8:16 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
After finishing up a business trip to New York for a deposition, a South Carolina attorney decided to take an earlier plane home today before predicted bad weather arrived. But the seemingly sensible decision put him on a life-and-death plane ride, as the US Airways flight crash-landed into the Hudson River shortly after takeoff.
Miraculously, it appears that all of those aboard the jet, including attorney Mike Nunn, survived the crash-landing, which made international headlines. The Aiken, Bridges, Nunn, Elliott & Tyler litigation partner says he got wet and may have suffered some frostbite in the frigid weather, but is otherwise fine, another partner at his law firm, Glenn Elliott, told the Florence, S.C., Morning News.
The safe landing is being hailed as an almost incredible feat of aviation: "The fact that passengers were able to walk off of that airplane and wait on the wing for rescuers to arrive is remarkable. It's amazing," aviation consultant Tommy McFall tells the Wall Street Journal.
Nearby ferries helped prevent a tragedy by immediately moving in to rescue passengers, according to a WXIA roundup of news coverage about the plane crash. A flock of birds colliding with both engines apparently may have caused the plane to crash by fouling its engines soon after it took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport.
After climbing out onto the wings of the jet, as it initially floated on the river before sinking deeper, passengers were quickly rescued. Many wound up at Arthur's Landing, a nearby steak-and-seafood restaurant along the shoreline in Weehawken, N.J., recounts the Wall Street Journal in an earlier article. "One male passenger requested a Scotch and was promptly served," the newspaper notes, and passengers donned restaurant attire in order to have dry clothing to wear. However, another man reportedly refused to take off his wet shirt, saying it was his lucky shirt.
As Nunn and his fellow passengers were bracing themselves inside the plane after a loud bang and a pilot's warning that they were going down, general counsel Michael Fricklas of Viacom Inc. happened to be watching from his 52nd floor office. The low-flying jet caught the media company lawyer's attention; he had seen another low-flying commercial plane over the river in 2001, just before it crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, the WSJ article reports.
"The plane was moving very slowly and low, traveling south along the Hudson River. It looked like it was gliding at that point," Fricklas says of today's US Airways jet. "It was flying very evenly and looked like it was coming in for landing. When it hit the river, there was a spray of water and it quickly pivoted sideways. The current was strong. It took less than five minutes for the ferry boats to get out there. Perhaps 10 to 15 minutes for the emergency vehicles and helicopters."
News accounts provide differing tallies of the total number of people on the Airbus 320 flight, but it appears that around 150 were aboard.
Washington Post: "US Airways Plane Goes Down in Hudson River"
Bay Area News Group: "Danville pilot safely lands crippled US Airways plane on Hudson River"
Reuters: "U.S. Airways crash not terror related"