2009-01-22 / News

Block Island ferry boat captain helps with 'Miracle on the Hudson' rescue

By Jeff McDonough

Carl Lucas Carl Lucas Athena, a high-speed catamaran that serves Galilee and Block Island in the summer months, was among the vessels that rescued passengers from the U.S. Airways jet that crashed into the Hudson River last week.

Thirty-fiveyear old Capt. Carl Lucas of South Kingstown was in charge of Athena. He is the

husband of Katie

Lucas, who is the bookkeeper at the Jamestown Press.

Flight 1549 was taking off on Jan. 15 when its crew reported bird strikes and the jet lost power in both engines. The pilot glided the crippled Airbus to a watery landing on the frigid Hudson River. A quick response from the ferry and other work boats on the river resulted in the rescue of all 155 people aboard the plane.

Capt. Lucas said the Athena was dockside and he had just started the engines to make the afternoon ferry runs when he looked out the window and saw the plane floating down the river as its passengers climbed out onto the wings. Lucas said the Athena crew tossed off its dock lines and they headed right over.

"The actual sight was pretty surreal," Capt. Lucas recalled. "I was expecting the worst coming up to the scene."

Lucas said that as the Athena approached the plane, they came upon a life raft filled with 16 passengers and three of the flight crew, including the pilot. Lucas said passengers were "soaking wet and freezing cold." Some had small cuts and other injuries.

He said his crew helped the jet passengers aboard the ferry and had them huddle around space heaters to warm themselves.

Lucas asked if everyone had gotten out of the plane and the pilot said he had gone through the plane twice.

Lucas said it all happened "very quickly and perfectly."

"It was just like doing a drill," he added.

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