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9-1-1 Call from Hudson River Plane Crash

Pilot and passenger survived frigid waters off Yonkers

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


New York Post on YouTube - Raw Audio: A man seconds from swimming in the freezing Hudson River calls 9-1-1 from his crashed plane.

YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) — Two people whose single-engine plane crashed into the icy Hudson River were rescued after following a 9-1-1 dispatcher's orders to get out of the plane just before it sank.

The pilot, 39-year-old Denise De Priester, of East Windsor, N.J., and 43-year-old passenger Christopher Smidt, of Colonia, N.J., survived 20 minutes in the frigid waters off Yonkers and were in stable condition Monday.

On a recording of the 9-1-1 call, Smidt frantically shouts, "We are in the plane. The plane is taking on water."

County police dispatcher Melissa Seymour ascertains that the pair has flotation vests, then says, "I need you to get out of the plane and let me know when you're out. ... I need you to get out of the plane so you're not trapped."

Smidt then calls to De Priester, "Get out! Get out! ... "We're going down!"

Once he escapes, he yells, "The water's freezing!" He tells Seymour he can't make it to shore.

She assured them a boat was en route, and then lost contact.

"I lost him," she tells a colleague before the call ends.

But three off-duty Yonkers police officers, a retired colleague — and the 12-year-old son of one of them — happened to be at a boat club on the river and commandeered a boat.

They plucked the freezing Smidt and De Priester from the river about 20 minutes after the Piper Cherokee had gone to the bottom late Sunday afternoon. The two were taken to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.

The hospital on Monday said the two were in good condition, and released a statement from them.

"We thank the first responders for their incredible response, we also thank the staff at Jacobi Medical Center for their excellent care. We look forward to going home soon," the statement said.

They had been on a sightseeing trip on their own plane out of Robbinsville, N.J., police said.

County Executive Robert Astorino said Monday that Seymour was "skilled and calm."

"This story has a happy ending due to the compassion and professionalism of all involved," Astorino said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is to investigate the cause of the crash.

Most aircraft that ditch in the Hudson are small planes like the Cherokee or helicopters. But in 2009, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in New York after striking a flock of geese. All 155 people aboard survived.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Tags: News, News Video, plane crash, hypothermia, dispatcher, 911


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