Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Somerset: "...debris field spread over an area
size of a football field..."
By Cindi Lash and Ernie Hoffman
Post-Gazette Staff Writers
ERIC Peterson of Lambertsville was working
with a friend in his auto shop this morning.
They heard a plane and looked up and saw a large
aircraft close to the ground.
"I actually thought it was going to hit a
house here in town," said Peterson. It
blew out windows of a nearby farmhouse when it
As it went over [the plane]
started going end over end, Peterson said,
and then dropped below a tree line and
exploded. Peterson saw a flash and then a
mushroom cloud of smoke.
The plane went down on a strip mine field.
Peterson and his friend rushed to the field and
looked for bodies, but couldn't find any. They
called out, but heard nothing.
"There was a crater in the ground that was
really burning. There were pieces of fuselage
and clothing all over the area, burning, said
Peterson. He said he didn't see any debris
longer than a couple of feet long.
State Trooper Tom Spallone of
Greensburg have confirmed that the plane was
United Flight 93, a 757, that departed this
morning from Newark en route to San Francisco.
It crashed in a ravine near an abandoned strip
mine in what some witnesses described as a fire
ball. The site is between Shanksville and
Bucktown, near Diamond T Coal Co., in
Spallone said the plane was still smoldering
at 12:30. He said officials were trying to keep
people from scene and confirmed that there are
no survivors. He said the "debris field spread
over an area size of a football field, maybe two
footballs fields." The impact of the crash was
so severe that the biggest piece of debris he
has seen there is no bigger than 2 feet.
John Hugya, an administrative
assistant to U.S. Rep John Murtha, said
he has been told that the plane initially flew
over Cambria County Airport in Johnstown. There
was no communication from the plane, and the
plane was not responding to Cleveland Center,
which is how they knew it was one of the
Reporters who had covered the USAir Flight
427 crash in Hopewell said that the scene was
eerily reminiscent of that crash, with a rural
scene, beautiful weather, and black ambulances
coming to the scene.