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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Jet Crashes, All 155 Survive
Aired January 15, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, miracle on the Hudson River -- a jet crashes into the water with more than 150 people on board and all are alive to tell about it.
We've got survivors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF KOLODJAY, PASSENGER: The captain came on and said we're going to dump this plane, brace for impact -- and probably brace pretty hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Eyewitnesses and firsthand accounts of the heroics that turned the possible tragedy into a triumph.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: One of the most spectacular days in the history of New York City's agencies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Right now on LARRY KING LIVE.
Breaking news tonight. US Airways Airbus 320 -- that's the kind of plane it was or is -- departed LaGuardia Airport at 3:24 p.m. And about three minutes later, the pilot reported a double bird strike.
Controllers at LaGuardia stopped all departures, opened up both arrival runways to prepare for an emergency landing. But the plane couldn't make it back.
It ditched in the Hudson River around 3:30 p.m. The water temperature -- 32.5 degrees. The air temperature -- 21 degrees. All 155 passengers and crew miraculously saved. The plane was en route to Charlotte, North Carolina.
We begin extensive coverage tonight with Alberto Panero, who is a survivor on that crash.
Do you live in Charlotte, Alberto?
Were you headed home? ALBERTO PANERO, SURVIVOR: No, I don't. I actually live in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Was that a stop off then or are you...
PANERO: Well, I'm about to finish medical school. And I just finished an interview for residency at NYU. And I had one tomorrow at Charlotte. So that was my other destination before I headed home.
KING: When did you know there was a problem?
PANERO: Well, pretty much as soon as it happened. You know, we heard a loud noise and you could feel the plane shake, I guess when the bird hit. We knew there was something really wrong, because I could smell smoke and pretty much everybody inside kind of -- you know, you could feel the tension building up within the plane.
But to be honest, with you, I didn't know the right side was broken, as well. So I thought we were just going to make it back with one engine. And when he made a big U-turn, you know, in my head, I said, OK, he's taking us back to LaGuardia. But once we started going down and getting closer and closer to the water and he said brace for impact, I figured that, you know, it was pretty much going to be the end of it.
KING: You had no idea it was a bird, right?
PANERO: No. No. Not at the time. I -- I didn't know what was going on. I figured it had blew up or it broke or something happened. I had no idea it was a bird.
KING: Was there screaming on the plane?
PANERO: There was. Not as much. Like I said, I think it was more quiet than anything else. People kind of bursted into, you know, some tears and a little bit of prayers, it seems like. But for the most part, to me, it felt like it was you know, it just kind of became very silent and kind of a fear or tension took over the plane.
KING: Where were you sitting?
PANERO: I was in row 16 by the window. So I was like right in the middle of the plane.
KING: Were you looking out?
Did you see the water?
PANERO: Yes. Yes. I could see the water the whole time. And, you know, it got pretty scary once we -- you know, were below the buildings, so, not only could I see the water getting closer, but I figured something, you know, was really wrong once we were at the level that the buildings were.
KING: Well, what went through you?
PANERO: Well, at first I was trying to keep myself calm. You know, I was hoping that, you know, like I said, the right engine would get us home. And then again, you know, I started getting a bit scared that, you know, I was going to die, obviously.
And the main thing I thought was just -- you know, I had some -- I'd been having a lot of good things happen, you know, with my career. And I'm about to graduate medical school. And I just, you know, saw my parents and my family just in tears, telling the story about this nice young man who had everything ahead of him but, you know, tragically died.
KING: Now you stay right there, Alberto.
KING: Let's bring in Captain Brittany Catanzaro of New York Waterway. She helped save 20 people.
Captain, what is New York Waterway?
CAPTAIN BRITTANY CATANZARO, NY WATERWAYS: New York Waterways is the transportation company that takes the commuters from New Jersey to New York or like the world financial centers and basic ports.
KING: On what kind of boats?
CATANZARO: We have all different bolts. We have prop boats, jet boats.
KING: All right.
Where were you when this happened?
CATANZARO: I was departing Pier 79 bound for Lincoln Harbor. And there's two piers that come across and you don't see the southbound or northbound traffic. So when I got far enough to look out, I looked north and saw the plane in the water. I took a double take.
And I called up, you know, my other fellow captain. And he's already on his way there. I got my crew ready. They started pulling out life jackets, getting that ready. They pulled down our Jason's Cradle, which is what we use to take people out. They could either climb out or we can hoist them out.
And once we got on scene, my crew just got right to work. People just started coming on board.
KING: Had you heard anything before that?
Had you heard the plane hit the water?
CATANZARO: No. I didn't hear anything. I didn't hear anything, I didn't see anything.
KING: Alberto, how did you get out?
PANERO: Well, initially, you know, the hallway was blocked. And so I kind of had to wait there. So I was trying to calm people down. And I kept trying to grab the seats -- some flotation devices. And I kept passing them back as I was walking forward.
And once I got onto the exit on the wing, I saw, one, that it was getting filled up quickly with people and it was going under water and the water was real cold.
And as I looked in front of me, there was a life raft that was pretty much, you know, halfway -- 70 percent full. So I looked back inside of the plane and the hallway was clear. So I just ran. And I made it up there. And once that happened, I just slid onto the -- the life preserver vest.
KING: Do you know if you got on Captain Catanzaro's boat?
PANERO: I don't think so. As I know, I think she -- she actually went to the other raft. I was in the first boat that came over.
KING: Were you grabbing people, Captain?
CATANZARO: No. My crew was down there assisting people. I was upstairs behind the helm, getting the boat as close as I could get it to get -- start having my crew make it as easy as possible for them to start getting people out.
KING: Why did this work so well, Captain?
CATANZARO: We train very well. Every month we have drills that we have to submit into the company. We have to do man overboard drills, abandon ship drills. And we're constantly drilling -- constantly. And when something comes, you already know how to take effect and how to put everything together. So it just went very smoothly.
KING: How cold was it, Alberto?
PANERO: It was really cold. When I had that seat, I said you know what, I'll float and I'll sit there and I'll just wade in the water, if anything. And once I got on that wing and the water started creeping up on my legs, it was -- I mean my feet are still cold right now. And I have like maybe five pairs of socks on.
KING: We'll be right back with Alberto Panero and Captain Brittany Catanzaro.
This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOLODJAY: There was a lady with her baby, I remember, on my left hand shoulder. And she was trying to crawl over the seats. And I just remember saying, you know, women and children first, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Alberto Panero, were there many children on the plane?
PANERO: I know there was an infant and, also, the raft that I was on, there was a little girl. And, you know, we made sure -- as soon as we had the lady that was injured, we got her off first. Then there was an old woman that apparently was in a wheelchair. So we got her. And then was a little girl and her mom. And then the rest was, you know, just women first and then everybody else.
KING: OK. We've got -- we've got 21 degrees air temperature, 32 degrees water temperature. We've got a boat in the water.
Was the exodus orderly, Captain Catanzaro?
CATANZARO: When we had gotten there, we pretty much -- there was people everywhere. There was people on the wings, there was people on rafts, there were a couple of people on the water. And we just got to whatever we could get to first and just started pulling people out.
KING: Would you say it was orderly, Alberto?
PANERO: Yes. Absolutely. I think everybody -- you know, everyone who came to rescue us, you know, had, you know, the mentality of just get everybody as safe and as quick as possible out of the water.
KING: What, Alberto, did the pilot do right?
PANERO: I think it was really all in the landing -- you know, the fact that the plane didn't blow up. I don't -- you know, you expected that it was going to burst into a million pieces. And it didn't. It was just floating there.
I'm not sure what he did. But, you know, the way I'm sure that it was the landing. And it was great.
KING: When you hit the water, what was that like?
PANERO: Well, it was actually just like being inside of a car that -- you know, that crashes -- you know, the forward and backwards motion?
As I looked, you know, I was pretty braced down, expecting the impact. I was expecting things to start blowing up and stuff start hitting me. And when that didn't happen, you know, I was pretty relieved, to say the least. That's why I can't -- you know, I feel bad even smiling and laughing, but I'm -- I'm just so happy to be alive.
KING: Did you call your family?
PANERO: I did. I did. I called my mother first and she spread out the word to my beautiful girlfriend and my family and my friends, which was great.
KING: Did your mother know you were on that particular flight?
PANERO: I don't think she knew. I mean she knew I was going to Charlotte. And I had called her, actually, before I got on the plane. But she didn't know that it had hit down.
When I called her, I told her, listen, I'm in the water. And the plane just crashed, but I'm OK. And there's a boat coming to get me.
KING: Did it knock your cell phone out?
PANERO: No. No. My -- I only got wet to about my knees and my pockets were still dry. So I was lucky with that, I guess. I mean that's the last thing I care about, but...
KING: Captain, how affected was all of this by the weather?
CATANZARO: The weather and the current took a big part of it. There's -- you had to maneuver the boat with the current, because the plane -- the plane is going down river. And you had to make sure there was no one next to you or inside -- like on the other side of you or in front of you. And you just had to slowly maneuver the boat down with the plane.
KING: Did you notice anybody hurt, Captain?
CATANZARO: Not to my knowledge. I don't know.
KING: Alberto, did you notice anybody hurt?
PANERO: Yes, on my raft there was a lady with a big laceration on her leg. Another was another gentleman who had a very small one on his head. But besides that, I don't think there were any other major injuries.
KING: Were there a lot of tears?
PANERO: I think not many tears. It was more of like sighs of relief and people -- you know, I think -- I just -- once we were safe, I think everybody just kind of went around shaking each other's hand, you know, hugging each other and just happy we were OK. You know, that -- it was almost like all of a sudden all these strangers that we didn't know -- all of a sudden, we had this common bond that...
KING: I'll say.
PANERO: ...we're alive and we were -- you know, we crashed into the Hudson River and you know, we're walking and talking about it.
KING: Are you going to fly again?
PANERO: Yes, absolutely. I have to. You know, I think that that's going to be the only way to not get any kind of a fear of flying. So I'm hoping -- you know, I really want to see my family. So I'm hoping to get back on the first plane to Fort Lauderdale.
KING: Captain, are they going to give you a couple days off? CATANZARO: No. I start right back up tomorrow at 5:00.
KING: Thank you both very much.
Alberto Panero -- you'll be coming back with us later, Alberto. We're going to have a whole panel. And thank you, Captain Catanzaro.
We salute you.
CATANZARO: Thank you.
KING: Imagine looking out of your window and seeing a jet about to crash.
We'll be right back in 60 seconds with some amazing accounts from people who saw it happen right before their eyes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: The pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure that everybody got out. I had a long conversation with the pilot. He walked the plane twice after everybody else was off and tried to verify that there was nobody else on board and assures us there were not.
I also talked to a passenger who said he was the last one up the aisle and that he made sure there was nobody behind him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now in New York, Jerry Wallis, who saw the plane crash into the Hudson River from his window and Bob Read, who witnessed the crash from his office.
Bought, by the way, is the senior producer for "INSIDE EDITION."
Jerry, what did you see?
JERRY WALLIS, WITNESSED CRASH FROM WINDOW: Well, it was a remarkable sight, Larry. I went to my window to close my blinds. And there before me was an airplane settling down out of the sky, heading down toward the river.
As I looked at it, it became apparent the plane was going to go into the river and ditch. But it was also very apparent the plane was under positive control. It was coming down as if it would be landing at a regular airport. And the wings were configured for landing. The landing gear wasn't down, but it was obvious the plane was very well controlled coming into the water.
At that point, I went to pick up my camera to take a picture. And then I realized instead of taking a picture, I should be dialing 911. So I was dialing 911 as the plane actually entered the water and then started taking pictures right after that.
KING: Bob, as a senior producer with "INSIDE EDITION," did you first think, what am I going to get here on camera?
BOB READ, WITNESSED CRASH FROM WINDOW: Well, of course, Larry. I looked up and saw -- it was a surreal image -- a commercial airliner coming down the river. It was only a few hundred feet off the water. And I screamed to our people -- my producers who were working with me, get a camera, let's get to the windows.
And it was just coming down in a controlled descent. It looked like it was -- as if it were landing at an airport. And ultimately, it touched down. I saw it. It was about a foot off the water. And it went behind a building. And when it came out, I was -- I feared the worst, that it would -- I would see pieces come from behind this -- this building. And instead it was a plane skimming across the water.
And our camera crew got to window with a long lens and was shooting probably one of the first images of the plane sitting in the water. And passengers were just climbing out and just massing -- dozens of them -- on the wings. It was incredible. And we'll have that footage tomorrow on "INSIDE EDITION".
KING: Jerry, apparently, a flock of geese got sucked into the engines.
Did you see any of that?
WALLIS: No. Not from my perspective, Larry. What I saw the plane actually settling down from about 50 feet above the river and then going into the river. But it was remarkable at how -- once again, well controlled it was, and then how quickly and seemingly under control the people started to exit from the plane.
I was able to take some pictures as that was occurring and also when the -- when the riverboats started coming up the river to lend assistance.
KING: Bob, did...
WALLIS: It was an amazing sight.
KING: Did help get there almost immediately?
READ: It was amazing. Our camera crew was shooting the passengers. And within two minutes, the -- two or three minutes, I would say, max -- these ferries. And it struck me did this pilot put the plane down there because he knew or because it was just, you know, a sheer stroke of luck.
But that plane landed right in the center of the passenger ferry traffic that commuters use every day to go back and forth to go between New Jersey and Manhattan. It was -- it was incredible. It was a miracle. KING: Jerry, it stayed afloat quite a while, didn't it?
WALLIS: Absolutely, Larry. It -- you know, when it first went into the water, it was almost totally sitting out the water, with exception of, obviously, the bottom of the wings. And then the tail fins on the back were touching the water. But the balance of it was right outside the water. You could see the wing tips.
KING: This you will never forget, Bob.
READ: I will never forget this. You know, Larry, we've done -- I run the investigative unit at "INSIDE EDITION." We've done stories on bird strikes. And typically, from what we know, it usually happens to one engine. And it's an emergency, but they are able to return to the airport.
READ: This was quite a catastrophe for this pilot, but he handled it -- it was incredible.
KING: Thank you both very much -- very much.
Jerry Wallis and Bob Read.
What was going on in hospital emergency rooms after the crash?
Find out from the doctors who treated survivors from the ditched plane, when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: You said that the pilot had indicated...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, he said brace for impact. He knew we were going down. And we came in this way right here. And I said oh, man, we're going to hit the water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now from New York's Roosevelt Hospital, Dr. Gabe Wilson, director of emergency medicine at that hospital. He worked in the E.R. Today.
And in New York, Dr. Chris McCarthy, director of emergency services at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan.
Dr. Wilson, how many survivors did you get to treat?
DR. GABE WILSON, ROOSEVELT HOSPITAL: We treated 11 survivors here at Roosevelt Hospital. At this point, 10 of them have been discharged. So, you know, people have done amazingly well. They were very lucky. KING: The person not discharged has what wrong with him -- or her?
WILSON: Actually, they don't want us to share their injuries. But they're stable.
KING: Not critical?
WILSON: Not critical. No.
KING: Dr. McCarthy, how many did you treat?
DR. CHRIS MCCARTHY, ST. VINCENT'S MANHATTAN: At St. Vincent's, we treated nine patients today, seven passengers and two rescue workers. All of them are in stable condition and we anticipate will have a very speedy recovery.
KING: Are they all still at the hospital?
MCCARTHY: As of when I left, they were still at the hospital, yes.
KING: Gabe, was there a typical injury?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of them -- there were a couple -- you know.
KING: Gabe first and then Chris.
WILSON: There were a couple joint injuries.
KING: Go ahead, Gabe.
WILSON: I'm sorry. Yes, a couple joint injuries, sprain/strains, in addition to mild hypothermia. No one exhibited more than mild hypothermia. So, I mean, if you consider the conditions here in New York City, it was approximately 20 degrees, out with a wind chill, I don't know, five or 10 degrees. And some people had -- were partially submerged in 40 degree water. I mean so, you know, for example, if you take an 80-year-old person -- a thin woman, 80 years old, other medical problems, and you consider this kind of exposure -- I mean the potential for this to be a devastating accident. I mean people were incredibly lucky.
KING: Dr. McCarthy, what was typical of your patients?
MCCARTHY: It was very similar to what they saw up at Roosevelt. Every patient had mild hypothermia. No one had anything worse than that. And there was one patient who had some mild bumps and bruises. But that was it.
KING: What was their emotional state, Dr. Wilson?
WILSON: People were clearly shaken up. I mean they were really ambivalent. They -- they knew how lucky they were, how well, you know, the crew had landed the plane, evacuated them safely and how vessels were in the area. And just the rescue was remarkably smooth.
But at the same time, they were clearly shaken. And they, yes, I mean they were tired. They wanted to be discharged and go home and rest.
KING: Dr. McCarthy, what about your patients?
MCCARTHY: Once again, a very similar story. Our patients were very shaken, cold, but happy to be alive. And just very -- still very much in the process of coming to grips with the trauma they had experienced.
KING: Dr. Wilson, I understand you're a pilot, as well?
WILSON: Yes, I'm an interim graded (ph) private pilot and I have about 370 hours.
KING: Have you ever had a bird...
WILSON: I've flown over the Hudson.
KING: You ever had a bird hit your plane?
WILSON: But it's different in a single engine plane. I've flown over the Hudson. You always dread that an engine will go out. But, you know, a jet usually has at least two engines. And it's extremely rare for both of them to go out at the same time. So, you know, usually jet pilots don't have to worry about being over the Hudson at a low altitude and losing their engines.
I mean, but the pilot was clearly incredibly professional and maintained his composure. He landed the plane really perfectly, to minimize the impact.
In these kind of accidents, first is the impact from the -- the (AUDIO GAP) significant medical injuries. And then the exposure.
They're two separate components. And if people were significantly injured, it makes it much more difficult to evacuate them smoothly from -- from the flight.
So it went -- it went incredibly smoothly.
KING: From the time of the hit, Dr. McCarthy, was it pretty quick for them getting them to the hospital?
MCCARTHY: It was very rapid. The response by the city was as fast as could be possibly hoped in this situation. And we were seeing patients at the hospital within 40 minutes of the crash.
We salute you both.
Dr. Gabe Wilson and Dr. Chris McCarthy.
They're the unsung heroes of medicine -- those who man the emergency rooms.
Dr. Wilson from Roosevelt Hospital and Dr. McCarthy from St. Vincent's.
How big a hero is the plane's pilot?
Real big. Those who know what it takes to a jet in trouble will join us next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATERSON: There is an heroic pilot who saved himself and approximately 154 other passengers this afternoon. We've had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we've had a miracle on the Hudson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And we have assembled a terrific panel. They'll be with us the rest of the way.
Alberto Panero returns -- the plane crash survivor who was with us at the top of the show.
In Los Angeles, Dr. Phil McGraw. You all know Dr. Phil. Well, may not know that he is a licensed pilot. And prior to his television career, he consulted on plane crash investigations.
in Charleston, South Carolina, Mary Schiavo, the aviation safety expert who we've called on many times.
And in Atlanta, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent.
Dr. Phil, we'll start with you. The pilot is being called a hero. He is, by the way, Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger. Sully is the nickname.
What's your read on what he did?
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, "DR. PHIL": Well, Larry, hero is not a big enough word for what this gentleman did. And I want to say, he was the captain on this, but it is a crew process. There is cockpit resource management that these pilots are trained in, where everybody has a job in an emergency. And it took everybody doing everything right, from the flight attendants to the flight crew.
But what this captain did in navigating this airplane, which is 81 tons -- I think people don't realize the flight path on this thing is 81 tons coming down. And for him to get that thing down intact, with no fatalities, hero is not a big enough word.
KING: Sanjay, his wife is telling CNN that he is reeling, that's the word, from the incident. What must it be like to have the lives of 155 people in your hands? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's amazing. I think that from hearing the stories about him so far, and what was taking place on that plane, it sounds like he was thinking about getting that plane down safely. So it sounds like he went into technical mode, which surgeons do in the operating room, pilots do in the cockpit. He had a job to do and he got it done.
I don't know how much he was thinking about the emotional impact at the time that he was trying to put this plane down.
KING: Mary, an official who heard the radio traffic recording say the pilot was extraordinarily calm, no panic, no hysterics. Is that inbred? Is that trained?
MARY SCHIAVO, AVIATION SAFETY EXPERT: It is. I can't tell you the number of cockpit voice recordings I've had to listen to in working aircraft cases, and they are calm. Even in the most unbelievable situations, they remain calm, because of training, experience, and education. Particularly here, with bird strikes on the rise, he knew he had to act and act quickly. Ninety percent of them happen at 3,000 feet or below. You've got to act fast.
KING: Alberto, did he talk to you during this? Did he talk to the passengers?
ALBERTO PANERO, SURVIVOR: No. The only thing he said, a few minutes after we felt the impact, was brace for impact. And once we hit the water, some people said that he, you know, told everybody to abort the plane, abort the plane. But I didn't -- to be honest with you, I didn't hear that. I just heard, brace for impact, and that's when I knew.
KING: Dr. Phil, Mayor Bloomberg said the pilot didn't leave the plane until checking that every passenger was off the plane. Does that surprise you?
MCGRAW: It doesn't surprise me, because this is a long-time professional that had what I understand was Air Force training, which is the best aviation training anywhere in the world. And I think the leadership kicks in. And I've often said, I don't think heroes are made by crises. I think it just brings out the leadership and the heroic character that people have.
And you know, Larry, there's an old saying in aviation, particularly with airline pilots, that it's a job that's hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of stark terror. And this is one of those moments that you can't see coming; it's just there. And has been said, Doctor Gupta was talking about, you know, he goes into technical mode, very task oriented, does the job. And he's just like the captain of a ship. He's not going to let anybody go down until he's checked every nook and cranny.
I think this is an amazing man, and I think all of his training kicked in and came through. This is a great, great day.
KING: Doctor Gupta, can you imagine what a bird would do to a plane?
GUPTA: You know, it's sort of interesting. I would imagine -- I don't know hardly anything. I'm listening to Dr. Phil. It's interesting to listen to this. But such a big plane, such a small bird, it's amazing what it could cause in this situation. I guess both engines affected by these birds. I wouldn't have predicted that, Larry.
KING: Initial reports say both engines failed. A bird did that, Mary?
SCHIAVO: Yes. And that's rare. There are about 60,000 bird strikes reported probably in the last 15 years. There are about 7,000 a year. But the instances of which they take out all the engines you can count on the fingers on your hands. It's extremely rare to get them all, all of the engines.
KING: Are you saying it's possible many people viewing this show tonight took off in airplane that's hit a bird?
SCHIAVO: Oh, yes. We've had a couple U.S. commercial jet liners have bird strikes in December of '08 and landed safely. It happens very, very frequently, and it's increasing. It's increased three fold in the last 15 years. Canadian geese population increases eight percent a year, and the FAA is working on it. But it's a problem.
KING: Alberto, you can always tell your grandchildren you were hit by a bird.
PANERO: I guess it's better than having a big goose poop on your head.
KING: You're not kidding. We'll take a break. When we come back, Doctor Gupta is going to describe hypothermia. It's a word we've heard. What's it like. What is hypothermia? We'll tell you when we get back.
KING: We're back. Before I asked Dr. Phil about the emotional aspects of this on the passengers, and since we have one passenger here, what the emotional aspect will be on Alberto; Dr. Sanjay Gupta, what is hypothermia? Can you give us a demonstration? Can it kill you?
GUPTA: It can, and it can set in very quickly, especially when the water is that cold. The process of hypothermia begins right away. You're 37 minutes into your show right now, Larry. If someone had been submerged in water for as long as you've been on the air so far, they probably would have had some of the most profound affects of hypothermia, which can lead to unconsciousness, even death.
Take a look at this animation here, Larry. Quickly, the body sort of goes into triage when faced with this sort of temperature. The heart and brain are the most important areas. The blood gets shunted away from all these other ares. The body starts to get very cold. See it turn blue there?
Eventually, you start to have significant problems. You start to feel stuporous, lethargy. If you go down into the cellular level, I think this is what's important. Look at the blood vessels specifically. All these red blood cells going through here, they start to get sluggish. They start to slow. And that begins the process of organ failure, which can be so profound.
When you're in water, Larry, you can lose heat so much quicker than in air. So 32-degree water temperature is much worse than the temperature on land.
KING: You can only get hypothermia in the water?
GUPTA: No, you can get hypothermia on land as well. It's just much easier to get it in the water because you're losing heat so much more quickly.
KING: What does the temperature have to be for it to occur?
GUPTA: It depends. It depends a little bit on the individual. It depends a little bit on what they're wearing as well. But even water around 69, 70 degrees, if you're in it long enough unprotected, you can develop hypothermia there as well, because you're just constantly losing heat from the body into the water around you.
KING: You could die from what, organ failure?
GUPTA: You can die of organ failure, or, if you lose consciousness and you're in the water, you might start to aspirate and you could essentially drown.
KING: Dr. Phil, what is the emotional aspect going to be on Alberto?
MCGRAW: There are huge individual differences in this, Larry. But what you're going to see probably most common among the passengers on this airplane could be some type of post-traumatic stress disorder, where what's going to happen is -- we saw pictures of people going up the stairways and they're raising their hands and saying, you know, it's great. We've cheated death here. We made it. But when people step back from this and realize, oh, my gosh, look what I've been through, look what happened, I mean, their knees can buckle on this thing tomorrow.
And what I want people to understand is that's a very normal sort of thing, and you need to be willing to reach out and get help for that. If you have anxiety attacks or panic attacks or you begin to relive this in your mind over and over, don't think that you're going crazy. That's not the case. It's just that there's a residual here.
KING: Would it be too soon now for Alberto to know whether he has any of these effects?
MCGRAW: Well, yes, probably so. And Alberto is such a well- spoken young man, it's hard to know. But certainly there could be a degree of shock here that a lot of people go through. It doesn't seem that's the case with Alberto, but I do think when he steps back and says, let me look at those pictures of what happened, and there's me standing on the wing, and realizing what could have happened, it can kind of come up on you and you go, wow.
And so it can be overwhelming. And I think that people just need to kind of watch and be sure that if it starts to get the better of them, that they reach out for help. And I'm sure that that will be made available.
Larry, one thing I want to make sure everybody understands is this wasn't just luck. This crew did their job. I'm very familiar with U.S. Air's training protocols. It is rigorous. These are well trained pilots. This wasn't lucky. This was somebody doing a really right job. Very fortunate, but this was somebody doing the right thing at the right time.
KING: Mary, would you concur?
SCHIAVO: I would. And, in fact, a US Air pilot was my flight instructor. That's who taught me to fly, a 30-year veteran with US Air. And, yes, training has an awful lot to do with it, and knowledge. He knew right away what it was. They're trained to look out for this. It's on the rise. And he went into what he was trained to do, with a lot of skill. This was an amazing landing.
KING: Alberto, do you think some things might set in? You want to be a doctor. Are you wary that there are possibilities of a post- trauma here?
PANERO: I think it's important to understand, like Dr. Phil said, training has a lot to do with it. Thankfully, I think with my medical training and seeing a lot of high index traumas, you know -- except this part, I'm part of it, but I'm OK. I don't think that it's going to be an issue. I think it's important to understand that things happen, and you know, whether it was luck or just training, I'm here and I'm alive and I'm well.
So it's for a reason. And, you know, I'm hopefully going to be able to do some good things with my life and help other people out.
KING: I bet you will. If you can't get enough of these amazing survivor stories, we can't either. Another one is coming your way next.
KING: It's been a heck of a day for people who thought they were going to go to Charlotte, North Carolina. Listen to this survivor's account of what happened when the plane he was on went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF KOLODJAY, SURVIVOR: He came on and said we're going to dump this plane, brace for impact, and probably brace pretty hard. And that's what we did. Kudos to him, man. He did a great job. We dumped it and the plane started filling with water really quick. And everyone was just super cool.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you get out?
KOLODJAY: By the luck of god, man. I don't know. We exited out the front. For some reason, I guess the back exit was closed. And that's where the water started filling a lot quicker than the others. So we made it up front, and it was cool.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about to the other people on board?
KOLODJAY: A couple of ladies got some bad leg injuries and everything. But all in all, I give my hat's off to the pilot. I think, all in all -- I asked around and I think there were five life rafts and I think everyone made it on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did the pilot say?
KOLODJAY: He said -- I guess an engine blew, no engine. So it was -- it was bad, man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How strong was it when you hit the water?
KOLODJAY: It was pretty bad.
KOLODJAY: Our boat sank over there and --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it a raft?
KOLODJAY: There were some life rafts that we all hopped on. And these ferry guys reacted real quick.
KOLODJAY: My legs are soaked. If you look at my pants, they're frozen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How were you rescued?
KOLODJAY: There were 24, 25 rows full of -- the plane was 100 percent full. Everyone got out, I think. Some people are hurt, though.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us on the phone now is Lieutenant C.K. Moore of the Coast Guard with the ground rescue team. Where is the plane now, lieutenant?
LT. C.K. MOORE, COAST GUARD: The plane right now, Larry, is secured to the sea wall here on the New York side of the Hudson here. And right now they have -- the Army Corps of Engineers is working with the other agencies to make sure that this boat stays secure and that we can also move forward in trying to salvage the plane.
KING: How many boats were involved in the rescue?
MOORE: On the Coast Guard side, Larry, was -- we had five small boats from our New York station, two from our Sandy Hook, New Jersey station, and one from our King's Point station, further up the East River. Then we had the Coast Guard Cutter Ridley, which is one of our 87-footers. And then we had the three rescue helicopters out of our air station in Atlantic City.
KING: Did they get there quickly?
MOORE: Yes, everyone responded quickly, and responded with help. The Coast Guard, we pulled out 35 people ourselves, in coordination with the other agencies and the other local ferries and the -- and things like that. It was a great coordinated effort.
KING: Because of the weather, did that make this a more difficult rescue?
MOORE: Yes, it did, Larry. With the water temperature at the time of the accident being 36 degrees Fahrenheit, that made it a possibility for hypothermia to set in pretty quickly to anybody who could have possibly been exposed to the cold temperatures of the water, and the air temperature out here.
KING: Any panic?
MOORE: More people panicking just to be helped and rescued, but people were appreciative. That was a main concern. We wanted -- their safety was top priority to us. So we wanted to get them out first.
KING: Coast Guard is always amazing. Thank you, Lieutenant C.K. Moore of the Ground Rescue Team, United States Coast Guard.
In the words of the governor, this was a spectacular day for New York, one for the history books. Don't go away.
KING: The whole world is talking about this amazing story, 155 survivors, a heroic flight crew. Let's check in with our own David Theall and hear your comments. David?
DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, we've certainly been tracking this breaking news on the blog at CNN.com/LarryKing. For those leaving comments on the blog, the pilot is definitely the hero of the day. "A true hero," says one. "My highest accolades to Sully," the pilot, as we've all come to know him.
We also heard from Thomas, who told us he's from New York City. Says Thomas, "all around us, heroes. From the pilot and the flight crew to the ferry boat operators to the first responders to the medical team, heroes all."
Larry, we also heard from Connie in the conversation tonight. And she said something we thought we ought to pay attention to. She say, "as a former flight attendant, may I remind all who are bored with the flight safety announcements and all of those blackberry using, newspaper reading passengers who choose not to listen to the flight, this is the reason why it's done. Let today be a lesson to us all."
We're going to continue the conversation, as we always do, on the blog, CNN.com/LarryKing. Look for the live blog link, click it. Join the conversation. Larry?
KING: Thanks, David. That last statement about the flight crew, certainly an amen for what Dr. Phil has been talking about. Mary, how difficult is it to land a plane in water?
SCHIAVO: It's very difficult, because planes sink rather quickly. And also, you have to do it with the wheels up. You're trained to do that in training. But to do it with the wheels up, no engines, and know that you have to get your flight attendants ready to evacuate the plane and you have give them orders and the cue to evacuate. They're very busy.
It's very difficult to get the thing down. I've worked plane cases where the plane has catapulted when it has hit the water. In those cases, very few people survived, and less than half in one of the cases I worked.
KING: Why do you gather -- he had clearance to get into Laguardia or possibly to go to Teteboro, Dr. Phil? Why do you think he couldn't make it? This, of course, is just a guess. We're not inside the cockpit.
MCGRAW: It is a guess. But I think we have to realize that, as I said, this thing is 81 tons and it's going down like an anvil. To think how badly this could be, I read on CNN that he cleared the bridge, I think it may have been the George Washington Bridge, by less than 900 feet. It was 27 years ago this week that Air Florida flight Palm 90 went down in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., and 70 passengers and four crew members were killed there.
So that just shows you what a difference it makes to be able to bring this in controlled onto the water. As Mary said, they are trained for this. And we haven't heard much about this co-pilot, but I guarantee you that co-pilot was calling off speeds. He or she was calling off altitudes. This was an absolute team effort to get this done right.
KING: Sanjay, is there going to be some emotional, post emotional effect on the crew?
GUPTA: You know, it's a good question. I think there are a lot of heroes today, certainly, people who were able to rise to the task. There may have been people who wished that they had been more heroic in retrospect. I imagine there will be some emotional evaluations after the fact. I'm always curious, and it's always hard to tell. I don't know if you can predict that sort of thing for sure. I think fear of flying is such a high fear for people. Then to watch this, even for people who weren't on the plane, I think it will affect everybody.
KING: Isn't it interesting that a plane crash has brought so much joy to so many people? Kind of weird, isn't it? That's what you call a miracle. We've got some more. Stick around.
KING: Dr. Phil, I asked Sanjay about this. We'll ask it of you. His wife says about the pilot that he is reeling from the incident. What's the post effect on them?
MCGRAW: Well, I think it's overwhelming, of course, when you think about the potentialities. But I think as he sits back and looks at this -- you asked me a minute ago, why the river instead of Teteboro or back to Laguardia? This guy was making the right decisions every step of the way. If you look at Google Earth, there was housing everywhere. The only place he could put this aircraft down without endangering lives on the ground, potentially hundreds of lives on the ground, was the river.
It's going to be overwhelmed. He may second guess decisions that he made. Oh my gosh, I hope he's going to take a deep breath and say, you know, I came to the precipice and I made the right decision. It may shake him up for a while. But this is a guy that I'm suspecting has been in a lot of situations in his life. This is one he can ultimately be proud of. I think he's going to give a lot of credit to people on the ground and a lot of credit to those flight attendants, a lot of credit to his co-pilot.
KING: Mary, would you agree?
SCHIAVO: I would agree. Phil said a great thing. The flight attendants too deserve a tremendous amount of kudos. Statistics show when flight attendants take command and bark orders and get people out the door, people live. Kudos to them too.
KING: And Dr. Sanjay, a lot of credit to the crew too, the flight attendants. We overlook them often.
GUPTA: We do. I guess people do. But it is remarkable, even after the plane has landed -- keep in mind, I heard it was going about 176 miles an hour when it hit the water. The types of injuries, people being able to brace themselves to protect themselves against those injuries. Then, as you point out, having the strong leadership to get people off the plane, sounded like it went really well, which is a heart-warming thing, Larry.
KING: Dr. Phil, when you pilot a plane, do you ever think about birds?
MCGRAW: I do. I have hit some birds over the years. But fortunately they haven't been 15-pound geese into a jet engine that has very fragile fan blades. It doesn't take much to hurt a jet engine. Fortunately, as Mary said, you seldom take out both engines at one time. I want to echo again what I said earlier and what Mary talked about; these flight attendants are not waitresses in the sky. Their number one reason for being there is safety. To keep order in this type of situation, that is just incredible courage and leadership.
Next time we get on a plane, we ought to reach over and give that flight attendant a pat on the back. They saved a lot of lives today.
KING: Thank you all very much. We especially want to thank Alberto Panero, who left us, the plane crash survivor. We wish him safe skies, an extraordinary medical career and a safe landing whenever he does go to Charlotte. We want to thank Dr. Phil Mcgraw, licensed pilot. We never knew this, prior to his TV career, he consulted on plane crash investigations. The always wonderful Mary Schiavo, and, of course, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
We want to hear from you. Go to CNN.com/LarryKing. Click on blog and tell us what you think about what you've heard tonight or any other night on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be back here another night from Washington, D.C. And live shows all weekend too, all next week too, up through Thursday. Time now though for Campbell Brown and "AC 360."