Last words from victims: 'Let's roll'
The Associated Press
The businessman and Sunday-school teacher said the same thing before he and other passengers apparently took action against hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 on Tuesday, shortly before the plane crashed in a western Pennsylvania field.
The jetliner, which government officials suspect was headed for a high-profile target in Washington, was the fourth to crash in a coordinated terrorist attack that killed thousands and the only one that didn't take lives on the ground.
Todd Beamer, 32, placed a call on one of the Boeing 757's onboard telephones and spoke for 13 minutes with GTE operator Lisa Jefferson, said Beamer's wife, Lisa. He provided detailed information about the hijacking and — after the operator told him about the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon — said he and others on the plane were planning to act against the terrorists aboard.
Before the call ended and with yelling heard in the background, Beamer asked the operator to pray with him. Together, they recited the 23rd Psalm. Then he asked Jefferson to promise she would call his wife of seven years — who is expecting a third child — and their two sons, 1 and 3.
After receiving clearance from investigators, Lisa Beamer said, Jefferson kept her promise Friday.
Bobbi Hennessey, a spokeswoman for GTE parent company Verizon Communications, declined comment yesterday. A telephone number for Jefferson could not be found.
"People asked me if I'm upset that I didn't speak with him, but I'm glad he called (Jefferson) instead," Lisa Beamer said. "I would have been helpless. And I know what his last words would have been to me anyway."
Beamer said her husband placed the call at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday and told Jefferson there were three knife-wielding hijackers on board, one who appeared to have a bomb tied to his chest with a belt. The other two hijackers took over the cockpit after forcing out the pilot and co-pilot.
"They realized they were going to die. Todd said he and some other passengers were going to jump on the guy with the bomb," Lisa Beamer said.
Several other passengers made phone calls from the jet before it crashed southeast of Pittsburgh: Jeremy Glick, 31; Mark Bingham, 31; and Thomas Burnett Jr., 38. Glick and Burnett said they were going to do something.
Todd Beamer dropped the phone after talking to Jefferson, leaving the line open. It was then that the operator heard his words: "Let's roll."
Then silence. Shortly afterward, the plane crashed, killing all 44 aboard.