|A passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 called on his cell phone from a locked bathroom and delivered a
chilling message. "We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked!"|
Minutes later the jetliner crashed in
western Pennsylvania with 45 people aboard, the last of four closely timed terror attacks across the country.
Radar showed the San Francisco-bound Boeing 757 from Newark, N.J., had nearly reached Cleveland when it
made a sharp left turn and headed back toward Pennsylvania, crashing in a grassy field edged by woods about 80
miles southeast of Pittsburgh. There was no sign of any survivors.
"There's a crater gouged in the
earth, the plane is pretty much disintegrated. There's nothing left but scorched trees," said Mark Stahl, of
Somerset, who went to the scene.
The Boeing 757 crash was one of four reported Tuesday by United and
American Airlines. Two jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and one hit the Pentagon
(news - web sites) in Washington.
United said Flight 93 left Newark at 8:01 a.m. with 38 passengers,
two pilots and five flight attendants.
Minutes before the 10 a.m. crash, an emergency dispatcher in
Pennsylvania received a cell phone call from a man who said he was a passenger locked in a bathroom aboard
United Flight 93. The man repeatedly said the call was not a hoax, said dispatch supervisor Glenn Cramer in
neighboring Westmoreland County.
"We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked!" Cramer quoted the man
from a transcript of the call.
The man told dispatchers the plane "was going down. He heard some sort
of explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane and we lost contact with him," Cramer said.
(news - web sites) agent Wells Morrison wouldn't confirm that the plane was hijacked, but said the FBI was
reviewing the tape of the 911 call.
"At this point, we're not prepared to say it was an act of
terrorism, though it appears to be that," Morrison said.
Reporters were taken to the top of a hill
overlooking the scene. The crash left a V-shaped gouge in a grassy field surrounded by thick woods, just below
a hilltop strip mine. The gouge is 8- to 10-feet deep and 15- to 20-feet long, said Capt. Frank Monaco of the
Pennsylvania State Police.
Investigators believe the plane crashed there and disintegrated, sending
debris into thick trees nearby, Monaco said.
"There's nothing in the ground you can see," Monaco said
of the crash site. "It just looks like tiny pieces of debris.
Without citing a death toll, United said
Tuesday afternoon that it had identified all passengers and crew members on board the two planes and was
notifying family members. No names were released immediately.
At San Francisco International Airport,
where the plane was headed, an evacuation was ordered. Bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled the hallways and a
counseling center was set up for relatives of the people aboard Flight 93.
"This is a time for
compassion. It's not a time for long sermons," said the Rev. John Delariva, a Catholic priest who is part of
the airport's counseling team.
Flight 93 also operated as a code-share flight with Air Canada as Flight