Dave Sanderson ('83)
Most people would call it bad luck — being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sitting aboard U.S. Airways Flight 1549 was probably the last place anyone wanted to be on Jan. 15. But Dave Sanderson ('83) says it was exactly where he was supposed to be. Sanderson, a husband and father of four, thought about saving others in the crisis. He was one of the last passengers off the plane after its miracle landing on the Hudson River, leaving only after making sure others had safely exited. He remained in the cabin, conducting sweeps to make sure everyone else was out, even as icy water reached up to his waist. When a rescue boat bumped the plane, forcing it to take on water up to his back, he jumped off and swam to a nearby ferryboat. Suffering from severe hypothermia and loss of the use of his legs, Sanderson was rushed to a triage unit and then to a nearby hospital, where workers said he was in grave danger of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Sanderson was back to work at his sales manager job at Oracle that Monday, and hasn't missed a day of work since. He explains his heroism simply: "God wanted me there to help people and to do the right thing. My mother always taught me to do the right thing, and the right thing is to take care of other people first. If you do the right thing, God will look after you," Sanderson said.
"He always puts others first, is always looking for ways to help and serve and has a very calm disposition in the face of fear or crises of any kind. I've known him for over 10 years now and all I can say is, the passengers of that flight were fortunate to have an angel among them that day." — friend and colleague Ariane de Bonvoisin, CEO of media company First 30 Days, in her tribute on the Huffington Post