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Plane Crash Survivor Meets God in Icy Waters

“I started noticing people on the shore and they were trying to, you know, they were yelling to us,” says Kelly Duncan Moore, “And I remember just being furious. I was so mad because I thought all these people are just gonna watch us die.”

In her early 20s Kelly Duncan Moore was a flight attendant with Air Florida. She loved the sense of freedom and control she had in her life at the time.  She says, “I don't want anyone to tell me what to do. I-I really wanted to be the one to make my own decisions. I felt like I was in control, that I was um able to do the things that I wanted to do.”

But that false sense of control came to an abrupt end on a freezing day in January 1982. After a long delay, flight 90 took off from Washington National Airport with Kelly and 78 others on board. She remembers, “I took my seat in the back jump seat, strapped myself in and we started down the runway. Immediately after leaving the ground, the aircraft started to shake really bad. The last thing I saw was a passenger in the very last seat, he turned around to me and looked very worried and I just kind of shrugged my shoulders. And then the next minute I was in a different - I didn't know what had happened.”

The jet failed to climb upon takeoff and crashed into the 14th street Bridge crossing the Potomac River then plunged into the icy waters below. Moments later Kelly emerged from the sunken wreckage. She held fast to the tail of the plane, fighting hypothermia and waiting for rescue. She says, “I felt like I was just so confused, like what in the world just happened? And as the time went on, I started to think, ‘I'm going to die.’ That's when I started to go, ‘I think this is the day I'm going to die.’ And I remember feeling that God was watching it, and it scared me because I thought, ‘Why should He help me?’ I didn’t know anything about God but I knew that the way I was living couldn’t possibly be considered a Godly life.”

After 28 minutes in the freezing water, she was pulled to shore through a dramatic helicopter rescue. She was one of only five people who survived the crash. She says, “I knew when I got to the hospital that God had heard me, and God was aware of me, and that's all I knew. And I remember that was the first time I really started to pray, but my prayer was just saying, ‘I'm so sorry that I don't know how to pray,’ because I thought, I know God hears me. And I-I just kept saying, ‘I'm so sorry, God, I don't know how to pray. I don't know how to pray.’”

As she fumbled through clumsy prayers, a nurse came into her room with the answers she longed for. “She grabbed me by the hand and she said, ‘Little girl, I'm not supposed to talk to you about this at work, but I feel like I have to.’ And she told me that Jesus had done more for me than just saved me from a plane crash. And as soon as she started to talk, I knew without a doubt that God sent her to talk to me because I had been saying I don't know what to do and she was there to tell me.

As Kelly prayed to receive Jesus into her life, she felt something she’d never experienced before. She says, “It brought me so much peace in a time of turmoil. I was begging God, ‘Please don't let this be something that's here today and gone tomorrow.’ I remember just begging God because I did not ever want to go back to not feeling His presence. Once you have felt God's presence, you would never want to live without it.”

She longed to know how to live as a Christian, so once again she prayed. The next day she received a Bible in the mail from a stranger with a note to read the book of John as a starting point. Once again she knew God was with her. She remembers, “God is so personal. He's making this so personalized for me that everything I need is right here in front of me and it was just a special thing. I-I knew that it wasn't going to be up to me to learn how to be a Christian that He was going to lead me through it.”

She says God has never left her since the day she prayed to receive him over 38 years ago. And Kelly has never waivered in her faith - even through hard times and the death of a child. She says she’s thankful God has walked with her and given her a second chance. “I had peace knowing that God was in control. The control in my life that I always wanted to have, that the peace came when I knew God was in control. And so I don’t have a reason why God would have spared me but I’m thankful and even if it’s was just to bring forth the children that would come after me and I don’t know what God has in store for my grandchildren and the people that will come after me. God gave me a chance to be rescued, not just from an airplane crash, but to be rescued from an eternity that I couldn't have ever changed. And so God gave me a chance to know Him and I couldn't be more thankful for that than anything.”

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