Steve O’Brien is forty-five, works for an accounting firm, and lives in Charlotte with his wife and two kids. He can be called, a father, a husband, a businessman, but most will now call him a survivor.
“You think about it every day. I think about it when I get up, I think about it when I go to sleep. It’s a defining factor in my life. I don’t live my life around it, but its always there,” said O’Brien.
Steve is one of the 155 passengers who survived US Airways Flight 1549, which made a crash landing in New York’s Hudson River last January; something even he has trouble believing.
“We crashed in a plane, and the biggest injury we have is somebody has a couple stitches in their legs. Its just shock, and thankfulness. You know, you just feel special. I really feel that I was a part of this special miracle,” added O’Brien.
In fact, its become known as ‘The Miracle on the Hudson’, the title of a new book in which he and other survivors share their story.
“You went through the same thing together. And you were right there on the edge – I mean we were right there – and then we got saved,” said O’Brien. “You know just when I see the guy that I was sitting next to, I just feel special just to pat him on the back, or give him a handshake.”
The experience has given O’Brien a new perspective on life, as well as an appreciation for what’s important.
“Thanksgiving was a special time this year. I had a lot to be thankful for, mostly it was time. You know, time that I was here for and time that I have going forward to celebrate more Thanksgivings,” he said.
The emotions and memories of that day may fade, but will never really go away. “Sometimes that comes back and its a little overwhelming. You know you still get emotional a little bit every day. But it’s like a death, it gets further and further away. You need to take the good things from it,” O’Brien said.
Even after surviving a plane crash, O’Brien does not fear flying. He flew home to Charlotte the day after the crash and has flown 55 times since then on business.