I was the first reporter to get to the Hudson River on January 15th, 2009.

I was a reporter at WNBC in New York City, headed to a heat shelter that had been set up since that day it was below freezing.

I got a call while riding in my live truck that we were the closest to the Hudson, and to go immediately. A plane crashed into the river.

Immediately, my heart sank. I knew I was headed to report on what was going to be a mass casualty tragedy, and after 9/11, the fears of what else was to come lingered. 

Instead, we arrived at a sight many still can’t believe. It’s been named the “Miracle on the Hudson.” And it was playing right before our eyes.

Recently, Dave Sanderson connected with me on LinkedIn. Dave was one of the survivors of that miracle.

He saw my name and remembered being interviewed by a Lynn with brown hair from his hospital bed in New Jersey. “Could it be you?” he asked me in his message.

We hopped on a Zoom, and he shared the irony that he wasn’t supposed to be on that flight.  That a change in plans put him in the fateful seat that shook violently when the bird strike hit.

He described the impossibility of it all. How the now famous Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger had the impossible task of landing US Air Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.

He told me how he could see the faces of passengers from their car windows on the George Washington bridge as the plane narrowly missed the sweeping and majestic structure that also happens to be the busiest passageway in the world.  Had Sully not cleared the bridge by a measly 400 feet, not only would the 155 passengers and crew on board be killed but so would many of the passengers in te 800 cars that pass along the GW bridge at rush hour daily.

Dave spoke of the voice he heard of his late mother saying “do the right thing and God will take care of you,” as the plane miraculously crashed into the below freezing waters.  Instead of panicking and racing to the front to escape, he went to the back of the plane which would have been considered a suicide mission and was the last one off the plane to ensure everyone got out safely.

He shared with me his plunge into the arctic waters of the Hudson and the swim to safety that felt like 100 miles. It was less than 100 feet. He described the most terrifying moment of that day, the feeling of his body shutting down as he was pulled on board his rescue boat and the voicemail he was able to leave his family with the only words he could get out “I’ve been in a plane crash.”

Dave survived and thrived. He turned his turmoil into a triumph, which became the name of his book.

dave sanderson books

As we spoke, tears filled my eyes as I thought about how someone can turn the worst thing in their life into something so beautiful and important.  

I would have never crossed paths with Dave had it not been for my own mission to rewrite my story.

For the record, it was a different Lynn who interviewed Dave. I was at the hospital on the New York side, but I’m sure glad he was curious if it was me. Because I got to hear his incredible story of resilience.

What about you? What are you doing to write your story?

Or maybe I should ask, what you are going to do to rewrite your story if you aren’t happy with how the plot is playing out?

When you take those bold risks, big leaps, and incredible strides, that’s when the magic happens.

Dave asked me how he could help support my mission, my new line of work away from the anchor desk and working to help others tell their story. I said “let me interview you on your book tour.” I sure hope I get to.

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