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911 Tape: Quick-Thinking Police Dispatcher Helped Plane Crash Lifesaving Effort

Recording of call reveals moments of terror on the Hudson River off of Yonkers.

Westchester County officials today praised the actions of all those who assisted the two people aboard the small plane that crashed in the Hudson River on Sunday evening, including a Westchester County police dispatcher who received their desperate 911 call for help.

“From the Yonkers police officers who went out on the river to a skilled and calm county police dispatcher on the phone, many people stepped up to do a great job to help keep those people alive and get them rescued from the frigid waters of the Hudson River,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino Astorino. “This story has a happy ending due to the compassion and professionalism of all involved.”

Westchester Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth praised the excellent coordination among county police, Yonkers police and other responding agencies, including the Yonkers Fire Department and the New York police and fire departments.

In addition, he praised county police Communications Operator Melissa Seymour for the sound and life-saving advice she gave to the pilot of the plane. As the river water was flooding into the cockpit, Seymour advised the pilot and his passenger to locate the floatation devices aboard the plane and get out the aircraft.

The pilot made a 911 call about 5:25 p.m. Sunday to report that his Piper Cherokee had crashed into the Hudson River. The call was received at the New York State Transportation Management Center and a dispatcher there transferred the call to the county police.

     “Sir, are you still in the plane,” Seymour asked the caller.

     “We are still in the plane. The plane is taking on water,” the caller responds.

     “Is it possible for you to get out?”

     “We can get out if we have to.”

     “I need you to get out,” Seymour advised him. “Get out of the plane.”

     The pair entered the water and the plane sank soon after. Yonkers police rescued them from the river.

Lisa Gentes-Hunt (Editor) January 28, 2013 at 05:52 PM
It's amazing these 2 survived. What a scary event...praying for a speedy recovery from their injuries.
stephany January 28, 2013 at 05:57 PM
where does it say they had injuries
joy January 28, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Great job by Melissa Seymour.
stephany January 28, 2013 at 06:09 PM
I wonder what they would have done without a phone and no one saw the crash..go down with the plane ? sounds like it to me. I hope they would have figured it out. shock or no shock i would rather be floating in frigid water than at the bottom of the river.
Lisa Gentes-Hunt (Editor) January 28, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Sorry, the prior stories referred to treatment for hypothermia.
Catherine Wachs January 28, 2013 at 06:31 PM
He sounds so calm. That 911 operator is a hero.
Da Face! January 28, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Great job, Melissa!
Mary Jean Merando January 28, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Way to go, Melissa! I always knew you were a special girl and this just proves it!
Jill Pearson January 28, 2013 at 11:49 PM
I would think they would be injured, i.e. hypothermia, just by being in the water for any amount of time. I didn't give that line in the story a second thought. The entire story, in my opinion, is a story about a hero (or two or three) and a wonderful successful rescue. Hope for a quick recovery and cheers to the responders.
Tucker J January 29, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Westchester County Police dispatchers are best trained and disciplined dispatchers in the nation! They cover a multitude of responsibilities and job pressures with utmost professionalism. Great job Melissa, and all of comm. sec.!
Geoff January 29, 2013 at 01:22 PM
A really great job by all involved. Thank you for all you do for us.
babypotato January 29, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Great job by the dispatcher, and thankfully the pilot knew where he was along the river...lots of calls come in and people really have no idea where to tell responders to go...it's important to pay attention to things like that because no one can predict when a crisis will happen
J. Hagar February 01, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Dispatchers do this kind of work, all day, every day. However, we are rarely ever acknowledged. We are truly THE 1st responders. Great job Melissa. You make me proud of my profession!
stephany February 02, 2013 at 09:02 PM
not many people get recognized every time they do the job they are paid to do. Nor do they expect it as you do. i see nothing particularly heroic or great about it. a call came in she answered it did the only thing she could and luckily there was a few guys by a boat to go get the victims that would have left the plane before it sunk anyway, one of which got promoted to detective for no other reason than being in the right place at the right time. how did what he did improve his detecting skills. i know it improved his bank account but skills--not so much. does anyone know what the increase in salary was for the new detective. Does anyone know if the boat that was already on route from piermont would have OR COULD HAVE gotten to the victims faster or was it not even close. i need clarification on that

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