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Colorado 'Miracle On The Hudson' Survivor Pens Book About Life After Rescue

By Mark Ackerman

DENVER (CBS4) – Nine years ago the world watched as a plane crash-landed in the Hudson River, and miraculously every passenger made it out alive.

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On Jan. 15, 2009, Boulder-native Karin Rooney was on board US Airways Flight 1549. She was flying home after a trip to New York with her boyfriend Chris. Just minutes after taking off from LaGuardia Airport the plane hit a flock of geese and lost engine power.

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Karin Rooney (credit: CBS)

"We smelled the smoke and we knew something was wrong with the plane," she said.

As the plane plunged towards the Hudson River, Karin said a prayer.

"My prayer was Lord, lay our plane down gently and give our captain everything he needs to lay this plane down," and that's exactly what happened. Capt. Sully Sullenberger gently laid the plane down in the water.

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"When we crashed I sat up in my seat because the landing to me wasn't that bad," she said.

Then water started rushing in the cabin.

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"My thought was – there was no way we are going to get out of here," she said. "We are going to drown."

Karin and Chris escaped the sinking plane, miraculously staying afloat on its wing. But, the ice cold water was rising fast.

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"Then, all of a sudden, I saw this ferry coming and I yelled, 'They are coming for us! We are going to be Okay!'"

All 155 people on board were rescued. That was just the beginning of Karin's journey.

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Shortly after the rescue, Chris proposed and the couple got married.

They traveled back to New York for a reunion of Miracle on the Hudson survivors- and something triggered inside Karin.

"I just started experiencing these thoughts that were so horrible about how I was going to die," she said.

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She went through counseling to help deal with the after effects of the trauma. At one point, her therapist asked her to relive every moment inside the plane. At the point when the water started rushing in Karin started sobbing uncontrollably.

Exploring that critical moment when her life was in peril, Karin came to a profound revelation.

"What came was I didn't feel worthy of being saved," she said. "Was I worthy of rescue? Would God Save me? Would God protect me?"

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While at her depths, she wrote a book about her experiences, titled "Sink or Swim: Life After Crash Landing in the Hudson."

"I think I felt a lot of guilt because I was a Christian, and I should get myself together," she said. "But, that's not true. People need time to heal."

The book shares Karin's personal journey of healing and faith. In the nine years since the crash, Karin and Chris have had three children.

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(credit: Rooney family)

"I realized that I really had the faith I needed that day," she said. "It was already set in stone."

Karin says she hopes Sully and her fellow Miracle on the Hudson survivors will be proud of the book- which is now available on Amazon.

Mark Ackerman is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. Follow him on Twitter @ackermanmark

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