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BofA, Wachovia employees were on plane

Twenty-three Bank of America employees were on the US Airways flight that crashed into the Hudson River, the bank confirmed. All were safe and accounted for.

Spokeswoman Nicole Nastacie said the employees were in New York for a variety of business reasons. One employee who was on the plane, Fred Berretta, recounted the experience in an interview with CNN.

“I could actually see the engine because I was sitting on the left side of the airplane right behind the wing so I could tell that it had failed,” Berretta said. “It looked like there was smoke puffing out of the engine.”

Berretta said the pilot began a gradual left turn, then told the cabin, “Prepare for impact.”

“We pretty much knew then we were going in the water,” he said.

Wachovia, now part of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, said it was aware of three people on board and that they have been confirmed safe.

Belk, a Charlotte-based department store company, had six employees on board — buyers and division merchandise managers returning from market week, where vendors present new offerings for the next season and retailers place orders for the future. All are OK, spokesman Steve Pernotto said.

Retirement giant TIAA-CREF, which has a major Charlotte office, had two employees returning home to Charlotte from New York. Both employees, who work in public affairs, were confirmed safe. The firm's head of security rushed to meet them at the 42nd Street Triage Unit. “We're relieved and so pleased that they're okay,” said spokesman Chad Peterson.

Other major Charlotte-area companies say they knew of no one on the plane, including Duke Energy, manufacturers Goodrich and SPX, Piedmont Natural Gas, Sonic Automotive, Matthews discount retailer Family Dollar and Mooresville home-improvement retailer Lowe's.