Heroes Among The Wreckage

"I was yelling at them from across the swamp, give me a hand, give me a hand!" said Paul McIntosh from Phoenix, an accountant on a business trip.

Like so many survivors of American Airlines flight 1420, he was waist-deep in a swamp and covered in jet fuel. But after escaping from the burning plane, he turned around and went back to help, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts.

"I was given a small flashlight and I looked through the little crevices to see if I could find anybody," said McIntosh.

Charles Fuller
Charles Fuller, a college professor from Arkadelphia, Ark., was returning home from a trip to Europe with his college chorus. "I crawled out on the wing and started pulling people through," he said. "We had a small girl, an older man who broke his leg. I called out three times to see if anybody [else] was there, and I got no response."

Fuller and McIntosh, strangers before Wednesday, were part of an army of passengers who rescued the injured. Crash survivor Phyllis Curuth calls them heroes. "This wonderful man with a broken shoulder was pulling people out of the plane," she says. "I credit him with saving my life. I was kind of stuck in the plane and couldn't get out. He just yanked me out and I fell off. I went one way, my shoe went one way. I almost lost my shirt, but I'm here."

Carla Koen
Carla Koen can tell the same story from her hospital bed -- a survivor rescued by a stranger. "Luckily, the plane cracked open right beside where my chair was," she said. "I tried to get through the hole and got hung up, and people were crowding over me, on top of me, spilling out everywhere. I know some people died, and as many of us as walked away from that. That's pretty amazing."

Survivors also credit one of the flight attendants, who despite her own injuries managed to pull a few more people to safety. Passengers agree the death toll would have been much higher if so many people had not responded so well.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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