Chivalry proved to be very much alive on the flight, full of business executives from Bank of America, Wachovia and TIAA-Cref.
"Women and children first!" the men shouted as 85-year-old Lucille Palmer, on her way to celebrate her great-grandson's birthday, was helped to the front.
Sanderson hung back and helped a woman with a 6-month-old baby through the door. She stood on the wing with the child in her arms while people in the rafts yelled to her.
"Just throw the baby to me," one woman urged. She reluctantly dropped the infant down and was then helped into the raft.
Most people readily abandoned their coats and carry-on luggage - grabbing yellow life vests and seat cushions instead as they headed for the exits.
One woman wouldn't get off without her luggage and had to be shoved through the door, Sanderson said. He went back and retrieved her purse to calm her.
Sanderson said he was the last passenger off the plane. He ditched when a rescue boat bumped the disabled jet, sending more water cascading inside.
'God put me on that plane'
"I was supposed to take the later flight, and God put me on that plane."