Six Belk Employees Among Survivors of Hudson River Jet Crash

Buyers and merchandise managers were returning from market week.

Six Belk employees, who were among the 155 survivors aboard a US Airways jet that crash-landed in the Hudson River on Thursday, plan to be back at work today.

This story first appeared in the January 20, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It’s a pretty sickening feeling when you know the people so well,” said Steve Pernotto, Belk executive vice president. “I can’t imagine what they went through. It’s certainly not business as usual around here.”

The apparel buyers and merchandise managers for the Charlotte, N.C.-based department store chain were returning from market week in New York when the AirbusA320 lost power in both engines after apparently striking birds minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. All passengers and crew were safely rescued from the frigid water.

Minutes after the accident, one Belk employee on board called her husband and told him that she was alive, but very frightened, Pernotto said.

The employees all were reported to be in good condition and “OK spirits,” Pernotto said. One stayed in a hospital overnight for observation but was released Friday.

The company did not identify the employees.

Four of the six flew to Charlotte on Friday, and the other two drove home over the weekend.