Crash survivor reunites with his rescuers

December 30, 2009 9:51:54 PM PST
Sanil Gopinath walked friends and his young family over the lawn where his plane crashed, killing the pilot and almost killing him. "I'm still healing, I'm still sore, and I'm still grieving," he said.

The small engine cargo plane carrying Gopinath, who was the co-pilot, and pilot George Maddox overshot the runway.

"We missed the runway by just a little. It's right there, 200 feet from here," he explained.

Connor Flaherty was driving home, and saw it all.

"The plane flew right over the top of my car and hit the tree to the left of me and blew up," said Flaherty.

The plane missed the road and a building.

"It could have been much worse with injuries to other people, but God is great. God is always great," Gopinath said.

The family visited Hackensack University Medical Center and St. Barnabas Burn Center to thank the medical teams that saved his life.

They found 5 of them at Hackensack during the visit.

"It's really nice, especially when time goes by and they come back, to see how well they are doing," Dr. Joseph Feldman said.

Gopinath laid 2 bouquets at the site - one for Maddox and the other for the tree that the plane hit, forcing it to land in the lawn.

"Thank God I'm alive," he said.

And there will be a phone call to Connor.

"To thank him for his courage to run to the burning plane," Gopinath said.

A response that Sanil's family will never take for granted.

"We are grateful that he is with us," said his wife, Shobha.

"I'm just lucky I have my dad," his son, Sidharth, said with tears in his eyes.

It will be a long journey back to home in Baltimore. The family looks forward to a new and safe year.