11 September 2001>News Stories>Hero's final phone call

Hero's final phone call
BBCNews . 17 September

London, Sept. 17


Todd Beamer who fought back against the hijackers

Details of a phone call from a passenger preparing to attack an armed hijacker have provided the clearest picture yet of the plane's final moments.

Three days after 32-year-old Todd Beamer's died in the crash near Pennsylvania, his pregnant widow learned that her husband had spent his last 15 minutes speaking to a GTE air phone operator and then planned to disrupt the hijackers.

The aircraft itself later crashed into fields.

Investigators believe the terrorists had intended to steer the plane into a significant target in the same way that other aircraft had hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

At 09:45 west coast time, Mr Beamer called to report the hijacking of United Airlines flight 93 and to describe the men behind it.

He said there were three of them - two armed with knives and a third wearing a bomb strapped to his waist with a red belt.

Twenty-seven people were being held at the back of the plane.

Two injured pilots were among them, and the caller was unsure if they were dead or alive.

Ten more passengers remained at the front in first class, separated from the others by a closed curtain.

His voice, heard against a backdrop of chaos and screams, sounded completely calm.

Final prayer
As caller and operator spoke, the plane suddenly began to buck wildly.

At first Mr Beamer thought it was going down. But then the aircraft evened out and seemed to veer north.

"As a result of that and maybe some information he was getting from other passengers who were on cell phones, he started to get an understanding of the gravity of the situation as far as what the end result was going to be and he told the operator that," Lisa Beamer said.

Her husband asked the operator to call his family to tell his wife and children that he loved them.

Then the two of them said the Lord's Prayer together.

"Soon after that he told her that he and some other passengers had plans to jump on the hijacker with the bomb and take him down," Mrs Beamer said.

The last words the operator heard him say were directed at someone else in the background: "Are you ready? Let's roll".

Mrs Beamer said news of her husband's final words almost brought a smile to her face.

"That was a phrase that was very Todd," she said.

It was something he normally said to his sons as the family prepared to leave the house.

Crash
The telephone connection remained open after that, allowing the operator to eavesdrop on the general commotion.

She was still on the line when the plane crashed.

Mrs Beamer said the news of her husband's remarkable courage was "a blessing" that would help her family through the years ahead.

"People live their lives and don't leave a legacy of faith and hope and love that Todd has left," said Mrs Beamer, who is expecting a third child in January.

"Something clearly went wrong on that plane. It's not what the hijackers planned on.

"They did make a physical attempt to take back the plane.

"I do believe that what they did together really changed the course of history that day.

"If it had to happen anyway, I guess this is what I would choose,"