'I Thought We Were Going to Die'

Stunned passengers recount terrifying moments before emergency landing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2009 4:16 AM CST
Spectators gather across the Hudson River in Hoboken, NJ, as rescue boats surround a US Airways jet that went down in the water.   (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
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(Newser) – A shuddering, heart-stopping boom preceded an eerie quiet in the US Airways jet as it plummeted toward the Hudson River, passengers stunned to still be alive tell the New York Daily News. They prayed and locked arms after the pilot warned them to brace for impact. "I thought we were going to die," said a grandmother. "I kept thinking, 'I never got to tell my family I love them every day.'"

Then "controlled chaos" erupted as the plane hit the water. Men shouted "women and children first!" as passengers were helped to the exits and water slowly filled the cabin. One woman who refused to abandon her luggage had to be shoved out.  "The pilot did a hell of a job," said one. "Everybody owes their life to that pilot. Period," declared another.