Cheering survivors of US miracle on Hudson toast 1st anniversary of jets dramatic landing

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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NEW YORK - The spot in the frigid Hudson River where a crippled jet landed a year ago amid terror, heroism and euphoria was transformed Friday into a site of celebration as survivors joined rescuers to toast their unlikely escape.
Cheering and hollering, they raised their glasses to life at 3:31 p.m., the moment of impact, on one of the ferries that plucked them from the water.
The toast went down capped a half-day of gatherings to mark the first anniversary of the "Miracle on the Hudson" in which all 155 passengers and crew on the US Airways plane survived.
One passenger arranged to have some Grey Goose vodka on hand for the toast, apparently a wry nod to the flock of geese that disabled both engines of the Airbus A320, said Pat Smith, a spokesman for NY Waterway, whose ferry crews rescued many of the survivors.
The ferry company donated the use of the terminal and boats for the event.
About 100 people applauded earlier in the morning as Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger - an unknown pilot before he brought the plane down - arrived for a breakfast as a national celebrity.
"We're so happy to have so much to celebrate," he said. "We have so much to be grateful for."
Roughly a third of the passengers participated in the day's events, including Laura Zych and Ben Bostic, who started dating after the splashdown.
Life, said Bostic, is "a lot better. I'm more open to opportunities. I appreciate everything." Chimed in Zych: "We don't take anything for granted. We celebrated the one-month anniversary, two, three, four. We've been waiting for this day."
New York Gov. David Paterson, who coined the phrase "miracle on the Hudson," told the crowd Friday morning that it was "the happiest day I have spent or ever will spend as governor."
And Sullenberger's co-pilot, Jeffrey Skiles, called the rescuers, who came from the fire and police departments as well as the ferry crews, "the true heroes of that day."
As they gathered later at a Manhattan ferry terminal, some people were worried about going onto the river again for the visit to the site. It was a clear but chilly day, just like it was a year before.
"A little nervous," said flight attendant Doreen Welsh, who was submerged up to her chin in the flooded aircraft. She said she began crying when another flight attendant pointed out the spot in the terminal where she had lain on a gurney after being rescued.
"It brought it all back," she said.
Sullenberger was mobbed by well-wishers, including a tearful Hannah Acton, whose husband, Patrick, was on the flight.
"Thank you so much," she said, clutching a copy of Sullenberger's book to her chest.
She recalled the dread she felt after getting a call that the plane had gone down, then watching the rescue on television, not knowing for 23 minutes whether her husband was dead or alive.
"I was hysterical," she said. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, now I'm watching my husband die."'

Organizations: US Airways, NY Waterway

Geographic location: US, NEW YORK, Hudson River Grey Goose Manhattan

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