January 15th, 2009
I was warming up my boat, the M/V LT Michael P. Murphy, today at Linclon Harbor Yacht Club, getting it ready for the big freeze tomorrow when I heard a call on the radio “Airplane down in the North River”. I’m figuring a Cessna or the like and I put it full ahead and head out into the river to see if it’s near me. I look to the North and I see a tail sticking out of the water, a big tail, 757 possibly. The aircraft is about a mile away so it takes me a few minutes to get on site. As I approach there are 4 NY Water Way ferries maneuvering to pick up survivors who are both on the wing and in rafts. I have a 46 ft Ex USCG Buoy Tender with a white angled stripe on the side which is low to the water so I pull up beside the cockpit on the right side of the AC and slide aft to pick up victims.
There are 2 men standing on the wing in waist deep water, one is trying to keep the raft from floating away by holding onto the emergency exit and the rafts rope. He is not trying to get on the raft but just protecting the 14 people that are. They look cold wet and shaken. He looks worse. I maneuver back to the wing but I am reluctant to keep my engine in gear in case someone goes in the water, so I have one of the ferries pin me to the side of the aircraft so I can grab the closest man and pull him on board. He says “Thank You” and “Please help the others” and climbs aboard the ferry to get warm. Its difficult for me because I am the only one on my boat, I have to run from the pilothouse to maneuver then aft to assist rescue. As more assets arrive everything is moving up and down with the waves and it gets a little rough.
At this point the ferry and my boat have twisted around and people are getting on his rescue ladder, which is kind of like a cargo net. I abandon my boat and climb aboard the ferry to assist. The hero with the rope finally jumps into the water and slithers aboard the raft. Everyone on board says “him first” so he tries to climb up the ladder. At this point he is extremely hypothermic, his limbs are shaking and he needs help. I climb down beside him and start pulling him up, first by the arms, then the belt. Finally he gets topside. I stay on the net and keep pulling the others up. The raft is moving in and out, I am more worried about someone else going in the water so I let go and wait for the ferry captain to gently nudge us back in. The Coast Guard is on the other side of the raft so it’s now a choice, Warm Ferry with a climb or another raft with a motor. My hands are so cold they quit working and are just claws, but that works in this situation.
As the last victim climbs up I loose my glasses, I can see them below me on the net, I figure, just payment for 150 lives and climb up.
Scott Koen.aircraft, captain, cessna, cockpit, deep water, emergency, emergency exit, ferries, few minutes, harbor yacht club, Hudson, ladder, linclon, maneuvering, michael p murphy, Miracle, New York Metro, NY, pilothouse, radio airplane, rescue, slithers, survivors, uscg, victim, water way