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Zeugenaussagen: Flug UA93

Flight 93 Witness Statements

Crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 9/11/2001

Homer Barron

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"He radioed back to his office, telling coworkers Homer Barron, 49, and Jeff Phillips, 30, what he had seen.
Then Barron saw smoke and called 911.
The plane came down on farmland reclaimed from a coal-mining operation. Barron and Phillips drove to the crash scene and found a smoky hole in the ground. A few firefighters had already begun pouring water onto the debris.
"It didn't look like a plane crash because there was nothing that looked like a plane," Barron said.
"I never seen anything like it," Barron said. "Just like a big pile of charcoal." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Kathy Blades

We know it crashed, but not why; FBI is silent, fueling "shot down" rumors

"Authorities also sought to explain why a number of residents saw a small, unmarked jet circling over the crash site shortly after. Workers at a marina saw it, and so did Kathy Blades, who was in her small summer cottage about a quarter-mile from the impact site.
Blades and her son ran outside after the crash and saw the jet, with sleek back wings and an angled cockpit, race overhead. "My son said, 'I think we're under attack!' " She said she was so shocked by the crash she can't say exactly how long after the impact it was.
A few days later, the FBI offered a possible explanation for what the witnesses saw. Authorities said that a private Falcon 20 jet bound for nearby Johnstown was in the vicinity and was asked by authorities to descend and help survey the crash site. But the authorities didn't identify the owner of the jet, nor explain why it was airborne some 40 minutes after the Federal Aviation Administration ordered all planes to land at the nearest airport." - Philadelphia Daily News (11/18/01)

Robert Blair

Flight Data Recorder Is Found at Pa. Site

"Robert Blair, 41, also of Stoystown, was driving his coal-hauling route when he saw the plane crash a few miles away. He noticed the second plane because he had heard on his truck radio earlier that the FAA had grounded all aircraft, and he said it was flying east -- the same direction as Flight 93. He said the FBI asked him whether it looked like a military plane, but Blair remembered only that it was "a big jet flying low." - Washington Post (09/14/01)

Bound by fate, determination

"Bob Blair of Stoystown was driving a coal truck on state Route 30 when he saw the jet plummet "straight down." - sfgate.com (09/17/01)

Jim Brandt

Alleged Partial Flight 93 Cockpit Transcript Obtained

"At least four witnesses who were at the crash scene within five minutes of the crash told WTAE's Paul Van Osdol that they saw another plane in the area.
Somerset County resident Jim Brandt said that he saw another plane in the area. He said it stayed there for one or two minutes before leaving.
Another Somerset County resident, Tom Spinello, said that he saw the plane. He said that it had high back wings.
Both men said that the plane had no markings on it, either civilian or military. The FBI said that it does not think that it was a military plane, but it would not rule out the possibility of it being a civilian plane. " - thepittsburghchannel.com (9/12/01)

Terry Butler

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"A few miles north of Lambertsville, yard man Terry Butler, 40, was toiling away at Stoystown Auto Wreckers.
He thought it was odd that a plane was in the area. He'd heard that all air traffic nationwide had been halted after the World Trade Center disaster about an hour earlier.
"It dropped out of the clouds," too low for a commercial flight, Butler said. The plane rose slightly, trying to gain altitude, then "it just went flip to the right and then straight down."
He radioed back to his office, telling coworkers Homer Barron, 49, and Jeff Phillips, 30, what he had seen.
"I told them a plane crashed. At first they didn't believe it, because you know, we do joke around." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Ron Delano

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"Ron Delano, who lives about two miles from the crash site, also rushed to the scene after hearing about the crash.
Delano said the plane hit a wooded area near a strip mine where he frequently hunts. He was stunned by what he saw.
"If they hadn't told us a plane had wrecked, you wouldn't have known. It looked like it hit and disintegrated," Delano said." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Carol Delasko

Crash debris found 8 miles away

"Fleegle, marina owner Jim Brant and two of Brant's employees were among the dozens who witnessed the crash from Indian Lake. Fleegle had just returned to the marina to get fuel for a boat that had run out of gas when Carol Delasko called him into the drydock barn to watch news of the World Trade Center attack.
Delasko, who ran outside moments later, said she thought someone had blown up a boat on the lake. "It just looked like confetti raining down all over the air above the lake," she said." - pittsburghlive.com (09/14/01)

Flight data recorder may hold clues to suicide flight

"Carol Delasko, who works at the marina, said she saw a light cloud that stretched several hundred feet across rising about 200 feet into the air moments after the crash." - post-gazette.com (09/14/01)

David Escherich

Stoystown man's 9/11 photo on display in NYC
A few years back, amateur photographer David Escherich of Stoystown snapped a photo that went global within hours.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Escherich snapped the picture of downed Flight 93 and captured international attention following the click of his 35-mm camera's shutter.
"I was going through Friedens when I saw a huge plume of smoke, unlike anything I've ever seen before," Escherich said.
Escherich continued on with his day and stopped at the Stoystown post office. He was aware of the devastation at the World Trade Center.
At the Stoystown post office, a friend encouraged him to investigate what had happened. With his camera in his car, Escherich decided he would.
Not long after the crash, Escherich was on the scene. Emergency personnel were only just arriving. Undetected, he grabbed his camera and set up his tripod and fired off 10 shots before being asked to leave.
"I was about 150 yards away from where the plane hit," he said. "But then I did as they said. I packed up and left."
Escherich knew the images he just captured were important, so he immediately had them processed.
Within 90 minutes of the crash, he shared his historic photo with a local newspaper and it was printed the next day. The following day, The Associated Press sent the Shanksville photo around the world. It is believed that Escherich captured the first images of the crash site.
Escherich recalled his sense of disbelief when he arrived at the scene of the downed aircraft.
"There wasn't a trace of an airplane," he said. "There was only a crater where it made impact. I'm not a real emotional person, but I am saddened by the whole thing." - Tribune-Democrat (10/06/07)

Anna Ruth Fisher

Courage After the Crash: Flight 93 Aftermath

"Anna Ruth Fisher says, "After the crash, another jet went near over to look." Her mother, Anna B. Fisher, adds, "We were looking at the smoke cloud when we saw the jets circling up there." - (Kashurba, 2002, pp. 158-159) [cooperativeresearch.org]

John Fleegle

Manager, Indian Lake Marina

interview: youtube

Crash debris found 8 miles away

"John Fleegle, an Indian Lake Marina employee, said FBI agents were skeptical of his reports about debris in the lake until they traveled to the lake shore Wednesday afternoon.
Fleegle, marina owner Jim Brant and two of Brant's employees were among the dozens who witnessed the crash from Indian Lake. Fleegle had just returned to the marina to get fuel for a boat that had run out of gas when Carol Delasko called him into the drydock barn to watch news of the World Trade Center attack.
"All of a sudden the lights flickered and we joked that maybe they were coming for us. Then we heard engines screaming close overhead. The building shook. We ran out, heard the explosion and saw a fireball mushroom," said Fleegle, pointing to a clearing on a ridge at the far end of the lake.
Fleegle, Brant and a fellow marina worker, Tom Spinelli, jumped in a truck and rushed to the crash site.
In the woods, they saw only a crater and tiny pieces of debris.
Fleegle said he climbed on the roof of an abandoned cabin and tossed down a burning seat cushion that had landed there.
By Wednesday morning, crash debris began washing ashore at the marina. Fleegle said there was something that looked like a rib bone amid pieces of seats, small chunks of melted plastic and checks." - pittsburghlive.com (09/14/01)

UA 93: The Road To Shanksville (part 2)

"Was standing watching on TV and the lights flickered in the building. About that time we heard the engines roar and we took off out of the building. As we were coming up from the office out through the building, the ground shook and we heard a big "boom", looked over and saw the big ball of fire up in the air.
Like I said, probably within, within 45 seconds or a minute of impact, we were there. We were there before any fireman, any paramedics, or anybody; we were on site. When we got there, there was a plane flying up above and he was smart, he flew straight for the sun, so you couldn't, you couldn't look at it and see exactly what type of plane, or if it was a fighter or what it was. But we caught a glimpse of it and as he was swinging, he was basically traveling in the same direction as the plane.
I was in Atlanta and that was this past winter -- was in Yamaha training -- and I was sitting there talking, everybody of course asks were you're from -- where you're from, introduce yourself to everybody in the classroom -- and of course now we just say "Shanksville, where the plane crashed" and everybody knows were we are at!
So I was sitting there talking to another guy and I was telling him about, you know he said: "Did you see the plane crash," and whatever, "Was you there?" and anything and I told him the whole story and I was explaining to him about whenever we were standing in the office and the lights flickered, and everything, and there was another gentleman sitting in the room in front of me that was retired from the Air Force and soon as he heard me say that he immediately stopped me and said, "Tell me this..." and I told him and he said, "Well, I'm retired from the Air Force." He said that plane was shot down and I said, "Why?" and he said because whenever the flickered, they zap the radar frequency on everything before they shoot and he said, "That's why your lights flickered. Your lights didn't flicker from the impact, your lights flickered because they zapped the radar system before they shot it." - GNN [See clip of interview: youtube]

Tom Fritz

A blur in the sky, then a firestorm

"When it decided to drop, it dropped all of a sudden, like a stone," said Tom Fritz, 63. Fritz was sitting on his porch on Lambertsville Road, about a quarter mile from the crash site, when he heard a sound that "wasn't quite right" and looked up in the sky.
"It was sort of whistling," he said. "It was going so fast that you couldn't even make out what color it was." - sptimes.com (09/12/01)

Rose Goodwin

Pennsylvania crash carries horror into small towns

"Rose Goodwin, a freshman at Shanksville Stony Creek High School, was watching the television news in class when Flight 93 went down.
"We felt it. We thought something must have landed on the roof," she said. "It was like, Oh my gosh, what was that?' We looked out the window and saw a black cloud. Everyone started screaming." - cleveland.com (09/12/01)

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"Three-quarters of a mile away, at Shanksville-Stonycreek High School, ninth-grader Rose Goodwin, 14, and her classmates had been watching coverage of the World Trade Center catastrophe on a classroom television.
"When the plane hit, it sounded like something just fell on the roof. Everybody sort of panicked," she said. "I went to the window and saw all this smoke coming up and I just pointed and screamed." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Georgetta Guynn

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"Georgetta Guynn and her husband, Alvin, of Vanderbilt, Fayette County, had been out with relatives when they heard about the attack on the World Trade Center.
"We came home and I went into the house to watch the television. Alvin had to go fix the fence because the cattle were starting to get out," she said. "When I saw what was going on, I went outside to tell him and I said, 'No planes are allowed to fly.' And then he said, 'Well, what's that, then?'
"We looked up and there was this big jet going overhead and it was pretty low and we could not hear the engines. It was like they were off. And then about a minute or two later, we got some binoculars and we were looking through them and there was all this smoke in the air and we knew it crashed." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Chris Konicki

FOX News reporter: It looks like there's nothing there, except for a hole in the ground.
Photographer Chris Konicki: Ah, basically that's right. The only thing you can see from where we where, ah, was a big gouge in the earth and some broken trees. We could see some people working, walking around in the area, but from where we could see it, there wasn't much left.
Reporter: Any large pieces of debris at all?
Konicki: Na, there was nothing, nothing that you could distinguish that a plane had crashed there.
Reporter: Smoke? Fire?
Konicki: Nothing. It was absolutely quite. It was, uh, actually very quiet. Um, nothing going on down there. No smoke. No fire. Just a couple of people walking around. They looked like part of the NTSB crew walking around, looking at the pieces..." - FOX (09/11/01) [Video]

Chris Kordell

Property owners try to put past behind them

"The mangled heap of iron and steel actually belongs to Rollock Inc., a scrap metal business owned and managed by the father-and-son team of Tony and Chris Kordell of Bedford County.

Chris Kordell, the company's vice president, said he was the first person on the scene when United Airlines Flight 93 went down.

"At first I thought it was our oxygen tank exploding, but then I realized that wouldn't have been loud enough," said Kordell, who speaks in the lilting accent of his native Australia. "When I ran out of the office, I saw a tail of black smoke." - pittsburghlive.com (09/11/02)

Nevin Lambert

We know it crashed, but not why; FBI is silent, fueling "shot down" rumors

"The plane seemed to be fully, or largely, intact. "I didn't see no smoke, nothing," said Nevin Lambert, an elderly farmer who witnessed the crash from his side yard less than a half-mile away.
Lambert also said he also later found a couple of pieces of debris, one a piece of metal, less than 12 inches across, with some insulation attached. To those who are debating the causes of the crash, the debris is particularly significant because heavier farflung debris would suggest that something happened to cause the plane to break up before it hit the ground." - Philadelphia Daily News (11/18/01)

Nina Lensbouer

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"My instinct was to run toward it, to try to help" said Nina Lensbouer, Tim's Lensbouer's wife and a former volunteer firefighter. "But I got there and there was nothing, nothing there but charcoal. Instantly, it was charcoal." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

9-11 Mysteries Remain

"Nena Lensbouer, who had prepared lunch for the workers at the scrap yard overlooking the crash site, was the first person to go up to the smoking crater.
Lensbouer told AFP that the hole was five to six feet deep and smaller than the 24-foot trailer in her front yard. She described hearing "an explosion, like an atomic bomb"-not a crash.
Lensbouer called 911 and stayed on the line as she ran across the reclaimed land of the former strip mine to within 15 feet of the smoking crater.
Lensbouer told AFP that she did not see any evidence of a plane then or at any time during the excavation at the site, an effort that reportedly recovered 95 percent of the plane and 10 percent of the human remains." - americanfreepress.net (09/17/04)

Tim Lensbouer

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"I heard it for 10 or 15 seconds and it sounded like it was going full bore," said Tim Lensbouer, 35" - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Kelly Leverknight

A blur in the sky, then a firestorm

"Kelly Leverknight was watching news of the attacks on New York and Washington when she heard the plane.
It sounded like it was flying low above her home in rural Pennsylvania, moving from west to east. It was an odd enough sound that she stepped outside to have a look.
"I heard the plane going over and I went out the front door and I saw the plane going down," said Leverknight, 36. "It was headed toward the school, which panicked me, because all three of my kids were there.
"Then you heard the explosion and felt the blast and saw the fire and smoke." - sptimes.com (09/12/01)

Barry Lichty

(mayor of Indian Lake Borough)

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"Barry Lichty, the mayor of Indian Lake Borough, said the ground shook and the town's electricity went out. He called the utility company to find out the cause.
Later, Lichty learned that a plane crash had disrupted service to the borough.
"I went to the scene, but stayed about 100 yards away. I don't think people wanted to get too close for fear of what they might see," he said." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Courage After the Crash: Flight 93 Aftermath

"Barry Lichty, a US Navy veteran and mayor of Indian Lake Borough (just to the east of where Flight 93 crashes), is watching television with his wife. He says he hears "a loud roar above the house that sounded like a missile. ... Shortly thereafter, we heard an explosion and a tremor. My first reaction, as a former utility employee, was that maybe someone shot a missile into the substation." He says Flight 93 "did not come over my house. I don't know what we heard." - (Kashurba, 2002, pp. 158-159) [cooperativeresearch.org]

Paula Long

9-11 Mysteries Remain

"While specific details vary, the explanation for the disappearance of the plane is that the reclaimed land acted like liquid and absorbed the aircraft, which is said to have impacted at between 450 and 600 miles per hour.
This explanation is also used to explain why there was only a brief explosion with one short-lived smoke cloud, not unlike a bomb blast.
"I never saw that smoke," Paula Long, an eyewitness, told AFP. Long ran "immediately" after hearing the crash but did not see the cloud of smoke caught in the now-famous photograph by Valencia McClatchey, she said." - americanfreepress.net (09/17/04)

A Link Forged by Tragedy

"People felt good that they wanted to be part of it," said Paula Long, 59, a volunteer at the Flight 93 temporary memorial, located near the crash site. "These big, tough Steelers that people put on a pedestal - they were letting go of their emotions. It humanized them." - nytimes.com (02/03/06)

John F. Marshall

(State Police Trooper)

Flight 93 probe involved trooper with local ties

"As a state police fire marshal and criminal investigator, Trooper John F. Marshall has seen his share of gruesome crime scenes.

"I found a lot of parts," said Marshall, who was awarded a 2000 Law Enforcement Agency Directors award for identifying a man nearly four years after he was found murdered.
"The biggest part I found was one of the plane's engines. It was about 600 yards from the crash site itself. I think they took it out with a winch on a bulldozer."
Marshall, who served four years in the Air Force, said he found many parts that he couldn't specifically identify.
Whenever he found a suspected part, he would notify the FBI or United employees." - sharon-herald.com (10/08/01)

Anita McBride

Pennsylvania crash carries horror into small towns

"Anita McBride looked out her kitchen window in Lambertsville and watched in horror as United Airlines Flight 93 disappeared over a line of trees. It was the fourth commercial airliner that crashed yesterday as part of a planned terrorist attack against the United States.
"I've been hysterical all day," she said. "It's like, I'm supposed to watch this on my small TV, not out my window." - cleveland.com (09/12/01)

Val McClatchey

See here.

Susan Mcelwain


"Susan Mcelwain, 51, who lives two miles from the site, knows what she saw - the white plane rocketed directly over her head.
"It came right over me, I reckon just 40 or 50ft above my mini-van," she recalled. "It was so low I ducked instinctively. It was travelling real fast, but hardly made any sound.
"Then it disappeared behind some trees. A few seconds later I heard this great explosion and saw this fireball rise up over the trees, so I figured the jet had crashed. The ground really shook
. So I dialled 911 and told them what happened.
"I'd heard nothing about the other attacks and it was only when I got home and saw the TV that I realised it wasn't the white jet, but Flight 93.
I didn't think much more about it until the authorities started to say there had been no other plane. The plane I saw was heading right to the point where Flight 93 crashed and must have been there at the very moment it came down.
"There's no way I imagined this plane - it was so low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was definitely military, it just had that look.
"It had two rear engines, a big fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright fins at the side. I haven't found one like it on the internet. It definitely wasn't one of those executive jets. The FBI came and talked to me and said there was no plane around.
"Then they changed their story and tried to say it was a plane taking pictures of the crash 3,000ft up.

"But I saw it and it was there before the crash and it was 40ft above my head. They did not want my story - nobody here did."
Mrs Mcelwain, who looks after special needs children, is further convinced the whole truth has yet to come out because of a phone call she had within hours from the wife of an air force friend of the family.
"She said her husband had called her that morning and said 'I can't talk, but we've just shot a plane down,' " Susan said. "I presumed they meant Flight 93. I have no doubt those brave people on board tried to do something, but I don't believe what happened on the plane brought it down.
"If they shot it down, or something else happened, everyone, especially the victims' families, have a right to know." - mirror.co.uk (9/13/02)

Lucy Menear

Day of Terror: Outside tiny Shanksville, a fourth deadly stroke

"Shortly before it went down, another call was made to the Westmoreland County 911 center from a Mount Pleasant Township resident who said he could see a large plane flying low and banking from side to side.
The impact "sounded like dynamite," said Lucy Menear, 83, who lives less than a half-mile from the crash site. "It seems as though everything was falling apart." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Michael Merringer

United Airlines says two planes crashed, one in western Pennsylvania

"Michael R. Merringer was out on a mountain bike ride with his wife, Amy, about two miles away from the crash site.
"I heard the engine gun two different times and then I heard a loud bang and the windows of the houses all around rattled,'' Merringer said. "I looked up and I saw the smoke coming up.''
The couple rushed home and drove near the scene.
"Everything was on fire and there was trees knocked down and there was a big hole in the ground,'' he said. " - Times-Tribune (09/11/01)

American Heroes Changed the Course of United Flight 93

"Michael R. Merringer was out on a mountain bike ride with his wife, Amy, about two miles away from the crash site.
"I heard the engine gun two different times and then I heard a loud bang and the windows of the houses all around rattled," Merringer said. "I looked up and I saw the smoke coming up."
The couple rushed home and drove near the scene.
"Everything was on fire and there was trees knocked down and there was a big hole in the ground," he said.
Purbaugh, Stahl and the Merringers were at the site before state police crews and the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) arrived to secure the entire site as a crime scene immediately or be arrested." - Daily American (09/12/01) [transcribed]

Don Miller

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"Ten miles away, at a warehouse near Berlin, employee Don Miller and co-workers felt their building shake." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Wallace Miller

(Somerset County Coroner)

Latest Somerset crash site findings may yield added IDs

"Most of it was little more than thumbnail size -- "no bigger than a pop rivet holding two pieces of aluminum," Miller said yesterday -- that last week's rains washed from trees bordering the stretch of strip mine where the airliner crashed nose-first Sept. 11." - postgazette.com (10/03/01)

Newsmaker: Coroner's quiet unflappability helps him take charge of Somerset tragedy

"It was as if the plane had stopped and let the passengers off before it crashed," Miller said." - Pittsburg Post Gazette (10/15/01)

Hallowed Ground

"Miller was among the very first to arrive after 10:06 on the magnificently sunny morning of September 11. He was stunned at how small the smoking crater looked, he says, "like someone took a scrap truck, dug a 10-foot ditch and dumped all this trash into it." Once he was able to absorb the scene, Miller says, "I stopped being coroner after about 20 minutes, because there were no bodies there. It became like a giant funeral service."

Immediately after the crash, the seeming absence of human remains led the mind of coroner Wally Miller to a surreal fantasy: that Flight 93 had somehow stopped in mid-flight and discharged all of its passengers before crashing. "There was just nothing visible," he says. "It was the strangest feeling." It would be nearly an hour before Miller came upon his first trace of a body part.

Miller says he is often asked how he copes emotionally with the work he must do. He says he is not sure. Then he tells the church audience that, remarkably, two heavily damaged Bibles were found in the wreckage of the flight; a white one at the crash site that belonged to a passenger who was a practicing Buddhist; and a second one, black, of uncertain ownership. Miller says he ran across the second one on the floor of the warehouse where victims' belongings were being kept. The second Bible was scrunched up and was lying open, he says, to the 121st Psalm, which is customarily read at funerals. He says he has no idea who left the Bible in that position." - Washington Post (05/12/02)

Coroner remembers Sept. 11

"Miller recalled his arrival at the crash site about 20 minutes after the plane plummeted to the earth and described how the aircraft came down at a 45-degree angle. He explained how the cockpit broke off at impact, bouncing into a wooded area of about 60 acres. The resulting fireball scorched about eight acres of trees, he said.
"When we got out there, we knew there weren't going to be any survivors. Debris was strewn about everywhere, with nothing bigger than a large coffee can," Miller said." - pittsburghlive.com (05/30/02)

Vignettes: They were there

"It just looked like somebody just dropped a bunch of metal out of the sky," Miller said." - Houston Chronicle (09/08/02)

The day that changed America

"Wallace Miller, the lanky, Civil War-studying county coroner, did see it. He sat at the family funeral home, his father, Wilbur, with him. They watched the second plane sweep in low, from nowhere. They winced when it hit.
He couldn't believe the scene. He saw the burnt trees, and some debris smoking in the dirt. He saw half a window frame. He saw shreds of that white cloth they put over the headrests.
He saw things in the trees.
He takes off his glasses, cleans them with his T-shirt. "This is the most eerie thing," he says. "I have not, to this day, seen a single drop of blood. Not a drop."

"An extraordinary thing happened on that airplane," says Miller, who spent five months and $500,000 and found less than a tenth of the victims' remains." - Pittsburgh Live (09/11/02)


"But the few pieces of surviving fuselage, local coroner Wallace Miller told us, were "no bigger than a carrier bag". - Daily Mirror (09/13/02)

Coroner completes probe of Flight 93 site

"A coroner has completed his investigation of the United Flight 93 crash site, saying less than 10 percent of the human remains were recovered from the site and he considers the land a cemetery.

Since the plane crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller has presided over the site near Shanksville, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. He has lead searches to recover remains of the 40 passengers and crew and the four hijackers, their personal effects, parts of the airplane and other evidence.
Miller, who said a final search in July turned up "two or three handfuls of aircraft debris" but no remains, announced Tuesday that he was officially ending his investigation." - 9news.com (08/27/03)

Scene of utter destruction

"County Coroner Wallace Miller remembers hearing melting plastic drip from the trees, and days and weeks later, comforting the families of doomed Flight 93.
When he got to the scene, about 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, there was little evidence that what crashed had been a plane.
"I can just remember seeing very small bits of debris everywhere. There really wasn't any large sections of debris or aircraft," he says." - phillyburbs.com(09/10/05)

Frank Monaco

(State Police Cmdr.)

Pennsylvania crash carries horror into small towns

"The biggest pieces were no larger than a phone book," said Pennsylvania State Police Cmdr. Frank Monaco." - cleveland.com (09/12/01)

Scene of utter destruction

"Over 100 state troopers secured the area. Our job is not to let anybody in here until the federal accident reconstruction teams from the FBI and (Federal Aviation Administration) can get in here and examine the shreds of evidence left," said Capt. Frank Monaco, commander of Troop A.
"All that is left is small pieces of the airplane." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Barb Muro

Courage of Flight 93 heroes celebrated in Pa.

"Barb Muro of Lambertsville said she was attending because of the impact the crash had on her life -- literally.
Muro lives only minutes away from the crash site, which today is just a mound of dirt with small American flags on it.
"It shook my house," she said. "It was such a strange noise."
Muro said she arrived at the scene about 10 minutes after the crash and was one of the first people on the scene." - Daily Collegian (09/12/01)

Bob Page

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"At least two witnesses in Shanksville said they saw a large plane circling the crash site following the explosion. About two or three minutes after the explosion, the airplane climbed into the sky almost vertically, the witnesses said.
"It sure wasn't no puddle jumper," said Bob Page, general sales manager at Shanksville Dodge.
Page said he could not see if there were any markings on the plane or what kind it was. State and federal officials could not confirm reports of a possible second plane in the area.
"I feel terrible for the people who were on that (downed) plane," Page said. He had moved a small portable television outside so employees could follow coverage of events unfolding in their own back yard.
"You just don't expect something like this to happen in a town the size of Shanksville," he said." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Eric Peterson

Pennsylvania crash carries horror into small towns

"Eric Peterson of Lambertsville looked up when he heard the plane. "It was low enough, I thought you could probably count the rivets," Peterson said. "You could see more of the roof of the plane than you could the belly. It was on its side."
"There was a great explosion and you could see the flames. It was a massive, massive explosion. Flames and then smoke and then a massive, massive mushroom cloud."
Peterson called 9-1-1 and ran to the crash site but found only burning jet parts, pieces of clothing, and seat cushions." - cleveland.com (09/12/01)

Day of Terror: Outside tiny Shanksville, a fourth deadly stroke

"Eric Peterson, 28, was working in his shop in the Somerset County village of Lambertsville yesterday morning when he heard a plane, looked up and saw one fly over unusually low.
The plane continued on beyond a nearby hill, then dropped out of sight behind a tree line. As it did so, Peterson said it seemed to be turning end-over-end.
Then Peterson said he saw a fireball, heard an explosion and saw a mushroom cloud of smoke rise into the sky.
Peterson rushed to the scene on an all-terrain vehicle and when he arrived he saw bits and pieces of an airliner spread over a large area of an abandoned strip-mine in Stonycreek Township.
"There was a crater in the ground that was really burning," Peterson said. Strewn about were pieces of clothing hanging from trees and parts of the Boeing 757, but nothing bigger than a couple of feet long, he said. Many of the items were burning.
Peterson said he saw no bodies, but there also was no sign of life." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"Eric Peterson, 28, an off-duty corrections officer, was an eyewitness to the crash.
"It was burning when it hit the ground," Peterson said. "When it went down, it was in one piece. It was flying low, real low.
"We couldn't see past the tree line, but we knew it crashed. I didn't think it was going to clear these places. It looked like it tumbled." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Jeff Phillips

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"He radioed back to his office, telling coworkers Homer Barron, 49, and Jeff Phillips, 30, what he had seen.
"There was one part of a seat burning up there," Phillips said. "That was something you could recognize." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Paula Pluta

Scene of utter destruction

"Paula Pluta of Stonycreek Township was watching a television rerun of "Little House on the Prairie" when the plane went down about 1,500 yards from her home along Lambertsville Road at Little Prairie Lane.
"I looked out the window and saw the plane nose-dive right into the ground," she said, barefoot and shaken just 45 minutes after the crash.
The explosion buckled her garage doors and blasted open a latched window on her home, she said.
"It was just a streak of silver. Then a fireball shot up as high as the clouds. There was no way anybody could have survived. I called 911 right away.
"There was no way anything was left," Pluta added. "There was just charred pieces of metal and a big hole. The plane didn't slide into the crash. It went straight into the ground. Wings out. Nose down." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Lee Purbaugh

American Heroes Changed the Course of United Flight 93

"For Lee Purbaugh, 31, of Listie, the thought of seeing a plane crash right before his eyes still seemed unbelievable to him when interviewed a half-hour later.
"I never in my life thought I would see a plane crash right before my very eyes," said Purbaugh, who was at the wreckage within minutes after the crash.
Purbaugh's second day on the job at Rollock Inc., a scrap metal company which owns the Diamond T mine, a former PBS Coals dig directly about the crash site, came with a shocking surprise. The crash happened within 200 yards of Purbaugh's view.
"I happened to hear this noise and looked up," said Purbaugh, who indicated the plane was about 40 to 50 feet above him. "I didn't know if I should duck or what because this plane was so low but then in a split second it hit."
Purbaugh thought at first it was just a cargo plane carrying some mail because when he ran up to the actual scene, he didn't notice any carnage, just some mail around. He also noticed a bookbag. He said the pine trees next to the site were on fire from the explosion and the fire was also spreading through the woods.
"I knew about the World Trade Center at the time but I never expected something like this," said Purbaugh. "There was scattered debris everywhere, some in large chunks, but nothing you could identify. I'm just shocked it happened here."
Purbaugh, Stahl and the Merringers were at the site before state police crews and the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) arrived to secure the entire site as a crime scene immediately or be arrested." - Daily American (09/12/01) [transcribed]

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"Lee Purbaugh, 32, working just his second day at Rollock Inc., a scrap yard next to the reclaimed strip-mine land, looked up from operating a burning torch to see the jetliner just 40 feet above him.
"I couldn't believe this," Purbaugh said.
The ground shook and the air thundered as the jetliner slammed into the ground about 300 yards away, Purbaugh said." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)


"Lee Purbaugh, 32, was the only person to see the last seconds of Flight 93 as it came down on former strip-mining land at precisely 10.06am - and he also saw the white jet.
He was working at the Rollock Inc. scrapyard on a ridge overlooking the point of impact, less than half a mile away. "I heard this real loud noise coming over my head," he told the Daily Mirror. "I looked up and it was Flight 93, barely 50ft above me. It was coming down in a 45 degree and rocking from side to side. Then the nose suddenly dipped and it just crashed into the ground. There was this big fireball and then a huge cloud of smoke."
But did he see another plane? "Yes, there was another plane," Lee said. "I didn't get a good look but it was white and it circled the area about twice and then it flew off over the horizon." - mirror.co.uk (9/13/02)

Unanswered questions: The mystery of Flight 93

"The fate of United Airlines Flight 93, the last of the four hijacked planes to go down in the United States on 11 September, holds no mystery for Lee Purbaugh. He saw what happened with his own eyes. He was the only person present in the field where, at 10.06am, the aircraft hit the ground.

"There was an incredibly loud rumbling sound and there it was, right there, right above my head - maybe 50ft up," says Purbaugh, who works at a scrapyard overlooking the crash site. "It was only a split second but it looked like it was moving in slow motion, like it took forever. I saw it rock from side to side then, suddenly, it dipped and dived, nose first, with a huge explosion, into the ground. I knew immediately that no one could possibly have survived."

Purbaugh, who served three years in the US Navy..." - Independent.co.uk (10/24/02)

Brad Reiman

Scene of utter destruction

"The tail was a short distance from the rest of the wreckage," said would-be rescuer Brad Reiman, 19, who lives near Berlin in Somerset County. "It looked like the plane hit once and flopped down into the woods."
The largest piece of wreckage he could identify looked like a section of the plane's tail, he said." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Betty Rhoads

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"Betty Rhoads thought her furnace had exploded. When she "mostly felt" the blast Tuesday morning, she had no idea a Boeing 757 had crashed less than a mile from her rural Somerset County home, killing all 45 people aboard.
"I ran to the basement," said Rhoads, who lives with her husband, Charles, in a two-story white farmhouse next to an old barn on Lambertsville Road in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County.
"Nothing was wrong. I then ran up to the attic, and nothing was there. I didn't know what was going on," she said.
The windows of her home were latched shut, but the explosion blasted them open. When the elderly couple looked outside, they saw smoke billowing from the abandoned strip mine behind their house where United Airlines Flight 93 had crashed, carving a crater in the earth." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Charles Rhoades

Day of Terror: Outside tiny Shanksville, a fourth deadly stroke

"All of a sudden, terrorism is here in my back yard," said retired coal miner Charles Rhoades, 80, of Shanksville, who was watching TV when he heard the large boom as the plane went down less than a quarter-mile from his home. "You live in the country to escape this kind of stuff." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Viola Saylor

Pennsylvania crash carries horror into small towns

"Viola Saylor of Lambertsville was outside talking to her sister.
"We didn't hear that plane coming until it was right on top of us," she said. "Then there was a roar."
She said the plane appeared to be gliding into the ground.
"All at once it just stopped. There was no engine noise, nothing. Someone hollered, Oh my God!' and then there was a real loud thud." - cleveland.com (09/12/01)

Linda Shepley

We know it crashed, but not why; FBI is silent, fueling "shot down" rumors

"But an eyewitness, Linda Shepley, said she had an unobstructed view of Flight 93's final two minutes and has reached the opposite conclusion. She recalls seeing the plane wobbling right and left, at a low altitude of roughly 2,500 feet, when suddenly the right wing abruptly dipped straight down, and the Boeing 757 plunged into the earth.
"It's not true," said Shepley of the persistent rumors. "If it had been shot down, there would have been pieces flying, but it was intact - there was nothing wrong with it." - Philadelphia Daily News (11/18/01)

Thomas Spallone

(State Trooper)

Scene of utter destruction

"Bits of metal were thrown against a tree line like shrapnel, said state police spokesman Trooper Thomas Spallone of Troop A in Greensburg.
"Once it hit, everything just disintegrated," he said. "There are just shreds of metal. The longest piece I saw was 2 feet long."
"We're finding more debris in various locations," Spallone said." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Tom Spinelli


"Tom Spinelli, 28, was working at India Lake Marina, a mile and a half away. "I saw the white plane," he said.
"It was flying around all over the place like it was looking for something. I saw it before and after the crash."
"It was mainly mail, bits of in-flight magazine and scraps of seat cloth," Tom said. "The authorities say it was blown here by the wind." But there was only a 10mph breeze and you were a mile and a half away? Tom raised his eyebrows, rolled his eyes and said: "Yeah, that's what they reckon." - mirror.co.uk (9/13/02)

Alleged Partial Flight 93 Cockpit Transcript Obtained

"At least four witnesses who were at the crash scene within five minutes of the crash told WTAE's Paul Van Osdol that they saw another plane in the area.
Somerset County resident Jim Brandt said that he saw another plane in the area. He said it stayed there for one or two minutes before leaving.
Another Somerset County resident, Tom Spinello, said that he saw the plane. He said that it had high back wings.
Both men said that the plane had no markings on it, either civilian or military. The FBI said that it does not think that it was a military plane, but it would not rule out the possibility of it being a civilian plane. " - thepittsburghchannel.com (9/12/01)

Mark Stahl

Hijacked passenger called 911 on cell phone

"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." - CNN (09/11/01)

American Heroes Changed the Course of United Flight 93

"Mark Stahl of Somerset, who went to the scene immediately afterwards, says, "There's a crater gorged in the earth, the plane is pretty much disintegrated. There's nothing left but scorched trees."
Purbaugh, Stahl and the Merringers were at the site before state police crews and the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) arrived to secure the entire site as a crime scene immediately or be arrested." - Daily American (09/12/01) [transcribed]

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"Mark Stahl of Somerset, a 32-year-old petroleum salesman, was working on his office computer when he heard the crash. He followed plumes of billowing smoke to the scene. Carrying a digital camera, Stahl arrived at the site 15 minutes after the plane fell from the sky.
He began taking photographs of the still-smoking scene. Later, he showed them to people who crowded around his car in a cornfield filled with reporters, photographers and large television trucks spouting giant satellite dishes.
"I heard the boom, followed the smoke and came up on this," Stahl said as he displayed an 8-by-10-inch photo of the crash site.
About 30 firemen were at the scene when he arrived, Stahl said. He didn't realize a passenger jet had crashed until a firefighter told him.
"It's unbelievable," he said." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Jim Stop

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"Jim Stop of Somerset was fishing at the Indian Lake marina, about three miles from the crash site, when he looked up and saw the plane overhead.
"I heard the engine whine and scream," Stop said.
He then heard an explosion and saw a fireball." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Ernie Stull

(mayor of Shanksville)

"Ernie Stull, mayor of the nearby village of Shanksville recalls
[question] They had been sent here because of a crash but there was no plane?
Ernie Stull: No. Nothing . Only this hole.
[question] I thought it was a crash site...
Ernie Stull: And it is. But there was nothing there to see. The plane had completely disintegrated. Puff. It hit the ground and flew to pieces-completely."
Question: At the very first, what did you think it could be?
Ernie Stull: Well...that a plane had crashed. But when we got here, there wasn't anything.
Question: What do you mean--there wasn't anything?
Ernie Stull: Well...there was no plane. There was what you see a hole. and that is the dirt that the airliner threw out--and the hole, about 6 meters deep...and that was all there was." - 9/11 File Unsolved [Reprint]

We know it crashed, but not why; FBI is silent, fueling "shot down" rumors

"Ernie Stuhl is the mayor of this tiny farming borough that was so brutally placed on America's psychic map on the morning of Sept. 11, when United Airlines Flight 93 slammed nose-down into the edge of a barren strip-mine moonscape a couple of miles outside of town.
A 77-year-old World War II veteran and retired Dodge dealer, he's certainly no conspiracy theorist.
But press the mayor for details, and he will add something surprising.
"I know of two people - I will not mention names - that heard a missile," Stuhl said. "They both live very close, within a couple of hundred yards. . .This one fellow's served in Vietnam and he says he's heard them, and he heard one that day." The mayor adds that based on what he knows about that morning, military F-16 fighter jets were "very, very close."" - Philadelphia Daily News (11/18/01)

Panoply of the Absurd

"When Der Spiegel confronts Stull with the English translation of these passages in the book and the film script, the man is speechless: "My statements were taken completely out of context. Of course there was an airplane. It's just that there wasn't much left of it after the explosion. That's what I meant when I said 'no airplane'. I saw parts of the wreckage with my own eyes, even one of the engines. It was lying in the bushes."
Wisnewski disputes accusations that he manipulated Stull and mentions a statement Stull made in the WDR film, in which his description was correctly reproduced: "The airplane was completely destroyed. Bang! It crashed into the ground and disintegrated - completely."
Although this is correct, it amounts to hair-splitting, since Wisnewski and Brunner also suggest in the film that there was no aircraft." - Der Spiegel (09/08/03)

9-11 Mysteries Remain

"One question, "is what happened to the physical wreckage of the plane?"
"There was no plane," Ernie Stull, mayor of Shanksville, told German television in March 2003:
"My sister and a good friend of mine were the first ones there," Stull said. "They were standing on a street corner in Shanksville talking. Their car was nearby, so they were the first here-and the fire department came. Everyone was puzzled, because the call had been that a plane had crashed. But there was no plane."
"They had been sent here because of a crash, but there was no plane?" the reporter asked.
"No. Nothing. Only this hole."
When AFP asked Stull about his comments, he disagreed about when he had gone to the crash site. "A day or two later," Stull said, was about when he went to the site. But he reiterated the fact that they saw little evidence of a plane crash." - americanfreepress.net (09/17/04)

Charles Sturtz

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"Charles Sturtz, 53, who lives just over the hillside from the crash site, said a fireball 200 feet high shot up over the hill. He got to the crash scene even before the firefighters.
"The biggest pieces you could find were probably four feet [long]. Most of the pieces you could put into a shopping bag, and there were clothes hanging from the trees." - post-gazette.com (09/12/01)

Lyle Szupinka

(State Police Maj.)

Black box recovered at Shanksville site

"State police Maj. Lyle Szupinka said investigators also will be searching a pond behind the crash site looking for the other recorder and other debris. If necessary, divers may be brought in to assist search teams, or the pond may be drained, he said.
Szupinka said searchers found one of the large engines from the aircraft "at a considerable distance from the crash site."
"It appears to be the whole engine," he added.
Szupinka said most of the remaining debris, scattered over a perimeter that stretches for several miles, are in pieces no bigger than a "briefcase."

"If you were to go down there, you wouldn't know that was a plane crash," he continued. "You would look around and say, 'I wonder what happened here?' The first impression looking around you wouldn't say, 'Oh, looks like a plane crash. The debris is very, very small.
"The best I can describe it is if you've ever been to a commercial landfill. When it's covered and you have papers flying around. You have papers blowing around and bits and pieces of shredded metal. That's probably about the best way to describe that scene itself." - Pittsburgh Live (09/14/01)

Laura Temyer

We know it crashed, but not why; FBI is silent, fueling "shot down" rumors

"Laura Temyer, who lives several miles north of the crash site in Hooversville, was hanging some clothes outside that morning when she heard an airplane pass overhead. That struck her as unusual since she'd just heard on TV that all flights were grounded.
"I heard like a boom and the engine sounded funny," she told the Daily News. "I heard two more booms - and then I did not hear anything."
What does Temyer think she heard? "I think the plane was shot down," insists Temyer, who said she has twice told her story to the FBI. What's more, she insists that people she knows in state law enforcement have told her the same thing, that the plane was shot down and that decompression sucked objects from the aircraft, explaining why there was a wide debris field." - Philadelphia Daily News (11/18/01)

Tim Thornsberg

Passengers Thwarted Hijackers

"It came in low over the trees and started wobbling," said Tim Thornsberg, a resident of Somerset County, who was working near an old strip mine when he saw the plane.
"Then it just rolled over and was flying upside down for a few seconds ... and then it kind of stalled and did a nose dive over the trees. It was just unreal to see something like that." - Pittsburgh 11 News (09/13/01)

Rosemary Tipton

Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"Rosemary Tipton, principal of Shanksville-Stonycreek Elementary School, was in her office when the building shook. From her window, she could see smoke rising from the ridge." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

Nick Tweardy

Scene of utter destruction

"You couldn't see nothing," said Nick Tweardy, 20, of Stonycreek Township. "We couldn't tell what we were looking at. There's just a huge crater in the woods." - pittsburghlive.com (09/12/01)

John Walsh

Bound by fate, determination

"I just watched with my mouth open as this yellow mushroom cloud rose up just like an atomic bomb over the hill where I like to go hunting," said 72- year-old John Walsh." - sfgate.com (09/17/01)

Gay Wilt

Frantic 911 call preceded crash outside Pittsburgh

"Gay Wilt, 63, said the impact shattered a basement window and sent things flying around her living room. She and her husband had been watching television coverage of the crashes in New York and near Washington.
''I was doing my hair in the bathroom, and I ran up and started screaming,'' she said of her reaction upon catching sight of the plume of black smoke." - Boston Globe (09/12/01)

Joe Wilt

Frantic 911 call preceded crash outside Pittsburgh

"Witness Joe Wilt, 63, said he heard a whistling like a missile, then a loud boom as he stood in the doorway of his Shanksville home across the road from the site. His view was blocked by a group of trees, but he said he saw a fireball rise 800 feet into the air, then give way to black smoke.
''It exploded and you could see flames and debris everywhere, right over that tree over there,'' Wilt said, pointing. He heard from a relative who worked at a small business less than one mile to the west that the plane had passed low overhead, heading southeast before crashing." - Boston Globe (09/12/01)

Jetliner Was Diverted Toward Washington Before Crash in Pa.

"The ensuing firestorm lasted five or 10 minutes and reached several hundred yards into the sky, said Joe Wilt, 63, who also lives a quarter-mile from the crash site.
"The first thing I thought it was, was a missile," Wilt said. The impact shattered a window in his basement and knocked down household objects from a shelf." - Washington Post (09/12/01)

A blur in the sky, then a firestorm

"The explosion unleashed a firestorm lasting five or 10 minutes and reaching several hundred yards into the sky, said Joe Wilt, 63, who lives a quarter mile from the crash site.
"The first thing I thought it was was a missile," Wilt said. The impact shattered windows in his basement and knocked a shelf full of household objects off the wall."" - sptimes.com (09/12/01)

Bill Wright


Pilot Witnesses Flight 93's Final Moments

"A pilot of a single-engine Piper might have been the last person to see United Flight 93 before it crashed in Somerset County on Sept. 11.

Local pilot Bill Wright told Team 4 investigator Paul Van Osdol that he thinks that he witnessed a struggle for control of the plane.

Wright was flying over Youngwood, Westmoreland County, and was getting ready to land in Latrobe under order from air traffic control.
Then, an air-traffic controller asked him and his passenger to look out the window.

Wright was flying a Piper Arrow when he spotted a jet crossing behind him -- about three miles away. It was close enough for him and his photographer to see the United Airlines colors.
Wright was flying over Youngwood for about 20 minutes before Flight 93 crashed in Stonycreek Township.
Wright said that he knew that there was a problem when air traffic controllers asked him to give them Flight 93's altitude.
Wright thinks there's only one reason air traffic controllers in Cleveland would have been asking him about the altitude. He said that it was probably because the terrorists had cut off all radio transmissions to air traffic controllers.
"We figured there was a hijacking in progress, and we were seeing it happening, but that's all we knew," Wright said.
Wright got another clue when he and his passenger saw the path that the plane was taking.
"(It) went behind us. (We) lost sight for a while and when it came back (the passenger) said, 'It's turning toward us. Now it's turning away. Now turning back toward us.' So it was rocking its wings.
"It would bank hard left, bank hard right and then back to hard left. We saw it bank three or four times before we got away from it."

Wright said that may have been when several passengers were fighting back against the terrorists.
"The story of the plane being taken over, that fits," Wright said.
Within moments controllers ordered Wright to land immediately.
"That's one of the first things that went through my mind when they told us to get as far away from it as fast as we could -- that either they were expecting it to blow up or they were going to shoot it down, but that's pure speculation," Wright said.

Wright said that he wishes that he could have done something about Flight 93, but there wasn't much more he could do in a single-engine Piper." - thepittsburghchannel.com (09/19/01)