LAKE WYLIE -- As he stood shivering on the deck of a ferryboat, Larry Snodgrass pulled out his cell phone and snapped a picture of a fellow passenger being pulled to safety. It was one of many he would take that day.
Snodgrass didn't know it at the time, but the woman in the photo lives in his neighborhood -- and belongs to the same church in the River Hills community.
It's one of the surprises to emerge from the tale of Flight 1549, the US Airways jetliner that crashed in the Hudson River last month and has become known as the "Miracle on the Hudson."
Now, Snodgrass and Frieda Muscatell have become good friends, sharing meals with their families and prayer with Pastor Bruce Jones, their minister at River Hills Community Church.
On Sunday, the two survivors shared their recollections with a packed sanctuary of more than 500 people, including many who fought back tears as they listened to the account.
Neighbors brought together
The pair live less than two miles apart and worship at the same place on Sunday mornings, but because they attend different services at the 1,100-member church, they never had a chance to meet, Jones said.
It wasn't until days later, after both had talked to Jones, that the pastor brought them together for the first time. During one of their meetings, Snodgrass showed Muscatel the 26 photos he had taken.
When he got to the photo of a woman being pulled onto a Coast Guard vessel, Muscatell made a startling realization: "That was me."
"Now, they've obviously become quite close because of this," Jones said. "For all the people on that flight, there's going to be a bond that will draw them together."
Seated near the front in row 8B, Muscatell was familiar with LaGuardia Airport. Her job as a sales manager with IBM takes her to New York several times a month. She knew LaGuardia sits next to water, so even as the plane descended, she figured they had a chance to make it back.
"I was just hoping and praying that runway would show up," she said. "It didn't."
When Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III delivered his now-famous instructions, Muscatell's hopes sank. "My initial reaction was just total disbelief -- are you kidding me?" Muscatel recalled. Then the gravity of the situation set in.
"I was sad for my children and my husband, and what they were going to go through," she said.
Weeks later, Muscatell is still trying to clear up what she views as a huge misconception. She said Sullenberger did not say, "Brace for impact," but instead, "Prepare for impact."
"I made sure Katie Couric had that right," Muscatell said, referring to her interview with the television host on a "60 Minutes" special that aired Sunday night.
Snodgrass, seated near the wing in 15F, watched things unfold from a different vantage point. He looked out the window and saw a huge fireball as one of the plane's engines exploded.
"You could feel the heat," he said. "People were screaming, 'Fire.'"
In the ensuing moments, Snodgrass watched the water get closer and closer in his window. Then, the impact came.
"It was like we landed on Velcro," he said. "It just stopped."
Like many others on board, Snodgrass tried to help others to safety. He noticed some passengers trying to climb over the seats. Sensing it could lead to chaos, he and a few others took charge.
"We corrected that very quickly," he said.
Snodgrass and Muscatell made it to the wing, where some of the men went to work untangling the plane's safety raft. They insisted that women and children get on first.
Within moments, ferryboats and Coast Guard vessels began pulling up to make rescues.
The cold made it difficult to move his fingers, but Snodgrass kept snapping photos, knowing it was important to document the dramatic sequence of events.
"Very few of us had phones left," he said. "I only had it because I (carried) it in my lap."
He couldn't have imagined that one of the photos was of his own neighbor.
Life in the spotlight
The pair took part in Sunday night's "60 Minutes" special. They are scheduled to be in New York this morning for a segment on ABC's Good Morning America.
It's all a bit overwhelming for two people unaccustomed to opening up in such a public way. But both say their unlikely meeting -- and the story of Flight 1549 -- offers a powerful lesson to all who hear it.
Jones quoted from the book of Psalms: "We know not what a day may bring forth," he said, adding that "nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ."
"It was not just the water keeping that plane buoyant," the pastor said. "All of that was part of what God orchestrated so that you could be here today."