January 16, 2009 / 2:38 AM / 10 years ago

New York news crews rush to cover "miracle" rescue

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Call it the miracle on the Hudson.

Manhattan-based TV news crews got quite a workout at about 3:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. British time) when a US Airways Airbus A320 lost both engines and landed in the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan. Coverage went live nationwide as the passengers were rescued from the icy river; all 155 people aboard apparently survived.

“We’ve had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we’ve had a miracle on the Hudson,” a relieved New York Gov. David Paterson said at a news conference held by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The twin-engine jet, which floated for two hours after the emergency landing, had taken off moments before from LaGuardia International Airport bound for Charlotte, North Carolina. The flight lasted less than six minutes.

Word about a jet landing in the water soon began to leak into CBS News headquarters, three blocks from the crash site. CBS News quickly confirmed it, and CBS Radio went on the air at 3:44 p.m., three minutes before the Associated Press moved the story.

The TV crews weren’t there to record most of the passengers and crew leaving the airliner, but every network broke into regular programming and showed the jet floating in the water, surrounded by ferries, Coast Guard cutters and police and fire boats. WABC-TV showed amateur video of the jet floating in the middle of the river with a New York Waterway ferry first arriving on the scene to rescue passengers.

While the passengers scattered to New Jersey and Manhattan on ferries and other watercraft — some to hospitals — several gave interviews while sopping wet.

“The pilot turned around (and) made a line for the river,” one passenger, identified as Fred, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “There was just a lot of silence, and everybody was just waiting for what the pilot would say. A few minutes later, he said, ‘Prepare for impact,’ and then we went into the water.”

The crash was witnessed by “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who was at her apartment on Manhattan’s West Side when she saw the plane go down. She immediately called ABC’s newsroom.

“It completely just hit the water full force, never bounced or anything like that, and came to a relatively quick stop,” she told anchor Charles Gibson. “But it didn’t skim along the water. ... (I) still can’t believe what I saw.”

“You get a call like we did this afternoon and you immediately fear the worst,” Gibson said.

Couric later anchored the “CBS Evening News” from near the crash scene and interviewed a survivor.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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