- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — A United Airlines jetliner carrying 45 persons crashed into a grassy field yesterday morning, minutes after a man who said he was a passenger told an emergency dispatcher in a cell-phone call: "We are being hijacked. We are being hijacked."
A Virginia congressman said the plane's intended target was apparently Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.
United Flight 93 was en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it crashed north of Somerset County airport, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania State Police Maj. Lyle Szupinka said there was no reason to believe there were any survivors of the crash.
The Boeing 757 crash was one of four reported yesterday by United and American airlines. Two jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and one hit the Pentagon in Washington.
In Pennsylvania, an emergency dispatcher received a cell-phone call at 9:58 a.m. from a man who said he was a passenger locked in a bathroom aboard United Flight 93, reported dispatch supervisor Glenn Cramer in neighboring Westmoreland County. The man repeatedly told officials the call was not a hoax.
"We are being hijacked. We are being hijacked," Mr. 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," Mr. Cramer said.
FBI 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," Mr. Morrison said.
Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, said after a Marine Corps briefing in Washington that Flight 93 was apparently intended for Camp David, the presidential retreat in the mountains of Maryland. The crash site is 85 miles northwest of Camp David.
The 10 a.m. crash of Flight 93 occurred about 85 miles northwest of Camp David near Thurmont, Md.
"There's a crater gorged 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.
He described the area as a former strip mine that is now a grassy field edged by woods. The plane came down near the tree line, he said.
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," Mr. 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.
United said Flight 93 left Newark at 8:01 a.m. with 38 passengers, two pilots and five flight attendants.

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