Passengers' Actions May Have Helped Curb Tragedy
By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 12, 2001; 3:42 PM
As United Airlines Flight 93 entered its last desperate moments aloft, there was terror and violence on board - but also heroism.
Minutes before the giant airliner smashed into a field southeast of Pittsburgh, passenger Jeremy Glick used a cell phone to call his wife at home in New Jersey and told her that he and several other people on board had come up with a plan to resist the terrorists who had hijacked the plane, according to Glick's brother-in-law, Douglas B. Hurwitt.
"They were going to stop whoever it was from doing whatever it was they'd planned," Hurwitt said. "He knew that stopping them was going to end all of their lives. But that was my brother-in-law. He was a take-charge guy."
Anticipating his own death, Glick, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Sept. 3, told his wife, Lyzbeth, that he hoped she would have a good life and would take care of their 3-month old baby girl, Hurwitt said.
Glick explained to his wife that the plane had been taken over by three Middle Eastern men wearing red headbands. The terrorists, wielding knives and brandishing a red box they claimed contained a bomb, ordered the passengers, pilots and flight attendants toward the rear of the plane, then took over the cockpit.
The story of Glick's words adds to the account of passenger resistance already given by another passenger's mother on NBC's "Today" show this morning. Alice Hoglan of California says her son, Mark Bingham, also spoke of a plan to tackle the hijackers in a last-minute cell phone call to her.
Flight 93 was the only one of four hijacked planes that did not smash into a major target on the ground, and some officials are already saying that the actions of people on board may have prevented an even greater tragedy.
Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, the ranking Democrat on the Congressional Defense Appropriations Committee, said at the crash site that he believes a struggle took place in the plane's cockpit and that the plane was headed for a significant target in Washington, D.C.
"There had to have been a struggle and someone heroically kept the plane from heading to Washington," he said.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company