Jeff Kolodjay was not supposed to be on Flight 1549. The 31-year-old Norwalk man was headed south for a golf trip with some friends and became on of 155 survivors of what is being called “the miracle on the Hudson.”
He is at least one Connecticut resident on-board the U.S. Airways jet that splashed into the Hudson River Thursday afternoon.
"There was fire everywhere and it smelled like gas," Norwalk resident Jeff Kolodjay told Reuters. "People were bleeding all over. We hit the water pretty hard. It was scary."
He credits the pilot with saving everybody's lives with an incredible landing on the river between Manhattan and New Jersey. Authorities say both of the plane's engines were disabled after the jet struck birds after taking off from LaGuardia Airport yesterday in a flight bound for Charlotte.
"You've got to give it to the pilot," Kolodjay said. "He made a hell of a landing."
Kolodjay is the director of operations for DAW Communications in Norwalk, the News Times reports. He had been heading to a golfing trip in Myrtle Beach, S.C., when he noticed a jolt and felt the plane drop. He looked out the left side of the jet and saw one of the engines on fire.
"Then the captain said, `Brace for impact because we're going down,"' Kolodjay said. "It was intense." He said some passengers started praying. He said a few Hail Marys.
"It was bad, man," Kolodjay said. But he also spoke of a sense of calm and purpose that quickly descended on the passengers and crew as the plane started filling with water and rescue boats swarmed to the scene. They decided women and children would be evacuated first.
"Then the rest of us got out," he said.
Thursday afternoon, DAW Communications President Scott Builione told the News Times that he had not been able to talk to his employee because Kolodjay lost his cell phone on the plane.
Connecticut Survivor Speaks
Builione told the newspaper that Kolodjay and his wife, who he married in May, are expecting a child in June.
"As you can expect, it is pretty wild. In the past hour, I have spoken to almost all the major news networks. We are just thrilled he is OK," Builione told the News Times, adding that he hopes Kolodjay will return to Norwalk Thursday night
Do you know anyone from Connecticut who was onboard? E-mail us here.