NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Six months ago, Charles Bianculli was in a small plane that suddenly crashed onto a street on Long Island right after taking off from Republic Airport.
Bianculli, 61, said it was a combination of miracle workers and a stubborn will to live that helped him to survive.
“I remember the prop stopping on the plane and everything going very quiet. I remember the pilot immediately executing an evasive turn and trying to get us to a safe place to land,” Bianculli told CBS 2′s John Landis Thursday.
The best option: East Carmans road in East Farmingdale. By the time it was over, passenger Ed Cerverizzo, 75, died and three others were injured, including Bianculli.
“I remember waking up face down on the concrete unable to breathe and in a great deal of pain,” Bianculli said.
He might not be here today and certainly might not be walking if it weren’t for the medical teams at Good Samaritan and Stony Brook University medical centers. But Dr. David Levy said what surprised him most that day was Bianculli’s cool.
“He had a combination of injuries all at one time and he was able to talk to me and communicate with me. I could not believe how calm he was. He was the perfect patient,” Dr. Levy said.
Doctors used eight screws and two rods to fuse five vertabre, including one that had completely shattered. In addition to Bianculli’s spine, doctors rebuilt his shattered pelvis with stainless steel implants. Dr. Stephen Kottmeier performed that procedure and says physical therapy was essential.
“He took the bull by the horns and he progressed in ways I haven’t seen,” Kottmeier said.
Bianculli says the moment after he almost died, everything went his way.
“The accident is tragic, admittedly, but from the time we hit the ground until now, everything’s gone perfect. That simple,” Bianculli said.
Federal investigators have not yet announced the cause of the Oct. 16, 2010 crash.