Plane Crash Survivor Describes Texting Wife and Praying in Final Moments Before Hitting the Water

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight: 32-year-old Nick Gamache was on that plane. He was heading home to Raleigh, North Carolina, after doing business in New York City. Mr. Gamache works in sales. The father of two little girls, ages two and five months, baby girl. Nick actually sent a text message to his wife right before the plane hit the water.

So joining us now from Raleigh is Nick Gamache, who flew home today and his wife, Karen. So what did you text your wife, Nick?

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NICK GAMACHE, PLANE CRASH SURVIVOR: I texted my wife, everything was running through my head pretty quickly. And I wanted to say goodbye, so — because I didn't know what was going to happen at that point. So I texted her our plane's on fire and I love you and girls — and the girls. And, you know, I made sure that the text got sent. Saw the indicator light. And you know, I just kind of knew it got through.

O'REILLY: Now Karen, how fast did you pick that text up after Nick sent it?

KAREN GAMACHE, WIFE: Oh, it was faster. I was actually occupied with the baby and decided to wait to go see who had sent me the message. And when I got it, just everything was running through my head, but I was very upset that I couldn't send him back a text. I did right away, but I thought what — that was my little window, maybe I missed it so…

O'REILLY: Did you go to the television right away? Turn it on?

K. GAMACHE: I did. I turned on the television right away. I went to the computer right away. Nothing was up. I called US Airways. They didn't know anything about it. So, my next step was to call a friend.

O'REILLY: That must have been so agonizing for you to not know what the situation was at all.

K. GAMACHE: Right. It was a relief that my 2-year-old was actually asleep during this time. So I just had the baby while I was somewhat hysterical.

O'REILLY: Yeah. Nick, when the plane hit the water, describe for us what happened to you directly after that?

N. GAMACHE: So when the plane hit the water, you know, I looked up and kind of quickly took inventory and looked around. And there was kind of a musty mist filling in the cabin. And the doors were already open at that point. And everyone started filing forward. I looked behind me to the back of the plane and saw that the rear doors were not open and that everyone was coming forward on the plane. So at that point, we were just moving ourselves towards the front of the plane. And the water was already coming in from the back. So my feet started to get wet, and I felt it start to come up my leg. So I just got off and went out the right plane — right side of the plane.

O'REILLY: Can you remember what you were thinking during this process?

N. GAMACHE: When we initially hit the water and the plane didn't break apart, I thought we're going to live. I'm like this is, you know, the plane's in one piece and we're not on fire, that's amazing. I mean, that was first thought that came to my head. And then, OK, let's get out of the plane.

O'REILLY: So you did have hope as soon as the plane didn't explode or didn't come apart. And then you did what you had to do, which was get out of the plane. Before it hit and after you text Karen, did — what did you do in the meantime? Did you pray? Did you think? What did you do?

N. GAMACHE: It's funny, Bill, because I had two thoughts going through my head. It was I need to send a text, but I need to start praying. And you know, I was debating on which one to do. So I elected to say goodbye. And I did yell out one thing before we hit the water. I yelled, you know, whoever's by the doors get ready. And then, you know, we hit.

O'REILLY: OK, now Karen, you've had 24 hours to think about this trauma. When you look back at it, what comes to mind? What pops into your head?

K. GAMACHE: Oh, I — just so overwhelmed. I really don't know what to say, actually.

O'REILLY: Are you — obviously you're relieved that your husband…

K. GAMACHE: I'm relieved.

O'REILLY: Right.

K. GAMACHE: Yes, and we're so happy he's home. He's just been home for maybe about three hours, so…

O'REILLY: Do you think this experience is going to change you, Karen, at all? I know it's going to change Nick — and we'll get to him with that question in a moment — but will it change you at all?

K. GAMACHE: I definitely think so. I think — we had a great relationship before but…


O'REILLY: The value of the relationship just goes up. That's what survivors…

K. GAMACHE: Right.

O'REILLY: I've been doing this for 35 years.

K. GAMACHE: Right.

O'REILLY: And survivors of trauma, close death experience, the value of what they have goes up. And I'm sure that's what you're thinking, Nick, too.

K. GAMACHE: Right.

N. GAMACHE: Absolutely. It really gets your priorities kind of in line, you know. I mean, you wake up this morning and you just kind of take inventory and take a deep breath and just think what you have just gone through. And you don't really think about the little things anymore. It's about, you know, what's important.

O'REILLY: Yeah, what's — you know, when you have things in your life like children, babies, spouses, and that you might not be there to see them, and then you're given a second chance to see them, well, I think everybody knows what happens then.

I can't thank you enough, Nick and Karen, for speaking with us. I know it's very hard and I know it's very emotional, but I think it's important that people know what happened to you and how you feel about it. And we thank you very much. If there's anything we can do for you guys, let us know, OK?

K. GAMACHE: Thank you.

N. GAMACHE: OK, thank you.

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