“I just want to see everybody because it’s such a wonderful feeling! Even though we all have our stresses, our lifestyles may be completely different, we always think about January 15,” said Denise Lockie, a Miracle on the Hudson Passenger.
Every year for the past 10 years Denise Lockie and many other passengers who were involved in the Miracle of the Hudson have gathered at the same restaurant in New York City to see friends who know firsthand how a near-death experience can give you a newfound appreciate for living life.
“Denise Lackey 2C! We always identify each other by the seat we sat in that day,” said Lockie.
“The first thing we do is hug each other because we’re lucky we’re just grateful. Thank you Sully, thank you everybody for what you’ve all done to save our lives,” said Barry Leonard, an organizer.
Barry Leonard organizes these reunions and says he was heading home to see his wife and children in Charlotte, North Carolina, when he broke his sternum as US Airways Flight 1549 made a ditch landing into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009.
The plane had lost all engine power when it struck a flock of Canada geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia causing Pilots Chelsey Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles to glide the plane to a ditching on the river, saving everyone on board.
Air traffic controller Patrick Harten remembers that day as the most stressful of his life, and he tells NY1 he looks forward to these reunions every year.
"The emergency happened, and I thought everyone had died when they said it was going into the Hudson. Meeting everyone, they became like my family. We call ourselves the 1549 family and I felt I was like one of the passengers with them because I was on for the journey," said Patrick Harten, an Air Traffic Controller.
And looking ahead to next year, organizer Barry Leonard says he will continue to organize events like these because they are so special to him, even if only one person RSVPs.