Woman says Miracle on Hudson crash caused PTSD, then gets fired

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A survivor from the Miracle on the Hudson said she was wrongfully terminated after she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the plane crash.

Denise Lockie was an account manager for Staples in January 2009 and was returning home to Charlotte from a business trip when her plane, Flight 1549, went down in the Hudson River. “This has been the most trying time of my life,” Lockie told Channel 9. Lockie said in the months following the crash, she began experiencing symptoms of PTSD and could no longer fly on certain planes while traveling for work.

Lockie said she sought help from a psychiatrist and psychologist but said her colleagues at Staples made insensitive comments and her boss tried to relocate her. “I had been told that I had changed since the incident and that I wasn’t focused,” Lockie said. Eventually, she took an extended leave of absence from her job to focus on her mental health.

“When I would shower, I couldn’t close my eyes in the shower because it just reminded me of the crash when we went into the water. I wasn’t functioning the way I was supposed to be functioning,” Lockie said. She also filed a workman’s compensation claim during her leave for the emotional trauma she suffered after the crash and was shocked when she suddenly received notification in 2013, while on leave, that she had been terminated.

“I felt more than betrayal. I was devastated. I am human. I would expect more,” Lockie said. Last week, Lockie filed a lawsuit against Staples, alleging wrongful termination and seeking compensation for lost wages and the emotional trauma she has suffered in the five years since the Miracle on the Hudson. “I just feel that they took me out of the equation — that I work for them –, and that I was on company business,” Lockie said.

Lockie’s lawyer Sean Herrmann told Eyewitness News, “They took her disability into account when they decided to terminate her employment, and that isn’t OK.”

A spokesman for Staples told Channel 9 they do not comment on pending litigation and would not respond to the allegations in the lawsuit. “It’s not about winning and it’s not about losing,” Lockie said. “It’s about the fact that it was in a very well-publicized miracle. However, it was real, I was there and it was very traumatizing.”

Staples is required to respond to Lockie’s lawsuit within the next month.