NEW YORK – Divers searching for the engine that broke off the US Airways plane that safely splashed down in the Hudson River last week found it Wednesday in hard mud about 65 feet below the surface of the murky, frigid water.
New York Police Department and New Jersey State Police harbor officers working with a sonar expert from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration got a reading on the river floor Tuesday of an object 16 feet long and 8 feet wide near where Flight 1549 made its emergency landing.
Divers went into the water around 2:35 p.m. Wednesday and located the left engine in about 10 minutes, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
The Army Corps of Engineers dropped a 1,500-pound cement anchor with a light attached near where the engine was thought to be. NYPD divers Paul Reynolds and Michael Delaney used the anchor line to guide themselves down to the engine and were within 2 feet of it. Delaney was involved in the rescue efforts after the Jan. 15 crash, pulling passengers from the icy water.
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Divers had been unable to locate the object found Tuesday after running out of daylight and being stifled by swift currents that made it impossible to drop a robotic device with a video camera to confirm whether it was the engine.
Investigators want to closely inspect the engine once it is pulled from the water to better understand if it conked out after hitting a flock of birds shortly after the plane's takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.
National Transportation Safety Board salvage crews will work to recover the engine from the water; it wasn't immediately clear when that would happen.
Police have already located several pieces of debris from the flight, including 35 flotation seat cushions, 12 life jackets, 15 pieces of luggage, two briefcases, 11 purses, 15 suit jackets and shirts, four shoes and two hats, Browne said. The plane's right engine was still attached to the body of the plane.
The Airbus A320 crash-landed in the Hudson after hitting the birds and losing thrust in both engines. All 155 people on board the flight, which had been bound for Charlotte, N.C., survived.
The rest of the plane was taken by barge to a Jersey City, N.J., marina over the weekend to be studied by investigators.