Yonkers, N.Y., police and emergency personnel pull one of two people safely out of the frigid Hudson River on Jan. 27, 2013, after their plane landed in the river. / Courtesy of Yonkers Police Department
YONKERS, N.Y. -- An off-duty police detective and his 12-year-old son were among the first responders who saved two occupants of a single-engine plane that crashed Sunday evening in the icy waters of the Hudson River, authorities said.
The plane, carrying a 43-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, both of New Jersey, on a sightseeing trip, came down in the river near the JFK Marina at 5:22 p.m., Yonkers Police Chief Frank Intervallo said.
Several Yonkers police officers and a retired city detective took a boat from the Hudson River Pilot House to save the couple, who had gotten out of the aircraft and spent about 20 minutes on flotation devices.
"If we didn't get there quick enough ... thank God we got there quick enough," said Daniel Higgins Sr., an off-duty detective who drove the boat and whose son, Daniel Jr., 12, also was aboard and assisted in the rescue efforts. "It's what we do for a living, and I'm just glad we were in the right place at the right time."
The victims had yelled for help and were in a state of near shock after being saved. The man, who was believed to be the pilot, was walking after the rescue but the woman was moved on a stretcher.
The two were treated for hypothermia and listed in stable condition at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, authorities said. Their identities were not made available.
Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said they were suffering from hypothermia. He said they "really looked good" given the situation.
On the boat, Daniel Higgins Jr. helped lift the man and woman out of the water. He then used his jacket to wrap their freezing hands.
"My son did a great job," Higgins Sr. said. "I couldn't be prouder of him."
Also on the boat were Yonkers Police Officers John Twomey, Joe Mahoney, Christopher Balezentis and Michael Atkins, and retired Detective George Farrell.
The Piper PA-32 Cherokee, which sank, was being flown under visual flight rules and the pilot was not receiving air traffic control services, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
The 1967 six-seat plane is registered to a Dominick Lipariti of Manalapan, N.J. He told The Times Herald-Record of Middletown that he had just sold the plane to a couple from central New Jersey on Thursday. He declined to release their names.
The aircraft floated toward the City Pier after the crash and has not been recovered yet, Gardner said. The couple took off from Trenton-Robbinsville Airport in New Jersey on a sightseeing trip of the Palisades, authorities said.
In addition to the Yonkers Police Department, the state police, New York Police Department, New York Fire Department and Westchester County police responded.
The crash occurred about four years after Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese. All 155 people aboard survived in what was dubbed the "Miracle on the Hudson."
Contributing: Journal News reporter Yaron Steinbuch
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Read the original story: 2 rescued after small plane crash on Hudson River