Local News

Fayetteville-bound couple survives dip in Hudson River

Posted January 17, 2009 10:09 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— An engaged couple headed to Fayetteville to visit family were among the passengers on US Airways Flight 1549, which ended up in the Hudson River minutes after takeoff on Thursday.

"I think our faith is what helped us get through it the most. When they said, 'Brace for impact,' we accepted…we’re probably going to die," said Stephanie King, a lawyer from Milwaukee, Wis.

King, 29, and her fiancé, Andrew Gray, 28, went to New York to celebrate her birthday. They got on the Charlotte-bound plane for a visit to Gray’s parents in Fayetteville.

After a flock of birds knocked out both engines, the pilot of the jetliner made a split-second decision to put the plane down on the Hudson River.

Gray said he took his fiancée’s hand when the announcement was made to “brace for impact.”

“I didn’t know how long we had,” he said. “We told each other that we loved each other, and we kissed, and we started praying.”

Surveillance cameras in and around the New York City mayor’s office captured some footage of the plane’s landing. The tapes show the plane gliding across the Hudson River on its belly.

When the plane landed, passengers exited onto its wings.

"I was out there saying, 'Hey don’t worry, boats are coming,'" Gray said.

Gray has been in dangerous situations before: He served as an Army paratrooper in Afghanistan.

The couple, who has not set a wedding date, planned to leave North Carolina next week to visit King’s family in Nevada. When they do set a date, the couple said they want to invite Flight 1549's pilot, Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger.