'Miracle on the Hudson' survivor Dave Sanderson thanks Palisades Medical Center staff that saved him

Dave Sanderson, who was seriously injured, returned to Palisades Medical Center to thank the staff who nursed him back to health.

Dave Sanderson, who was seriously injured, returned to Palisades Medical Center to thank the staff who nursed him back to health. (1/15/14)

NORTH BERGEN - The survivors of Flight 1549, also known as the "Miracle on the Hudson," got together Wednesday to commemorate five years since they were rescued.

There were 155 passengers who survived the emergency landing in the Hudson River, after a flock of geese struck and disabled the engine while the plane was taking off from LaGuardia Airport.

Dave Sanderson, who was seriously injured, returned to Palisades Medical Center to thank the staff who nursed him back to health.

He suffered from hypothermia and heart failure, but survived. Now he says he has turned his miracle into a mission.

Sanderson says he wasn't scheduled to be on that flight until a last minute change of plans. "These people at Palisades impact people every moment of every day," he says. "I never appreciated that."

As he was fighting to survive, Sanderson says he remembered something his mother told him when he was a little boy. ''If you can't, then you must," he says. "I was holding onto this little orange ladder and they told me I had to climb and how can I do this? I can't do this."

Not only did Sanderson climb from the frigid river water, he recovered from a temperature barely over 94 degrees. His message to the hospital staff is that they give people hope. "It's like my family," he says. "It's hard to understand. It's like a second family when you get another chance."

Sanderson is a computer software salesman, but has spoken to groups 455 times about his experience.

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