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Jetliner slams into ground in western Pennsylvania

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (BP)–A United Airlines jetliner crashed this morning, one in western Pennsylvania about 80 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. There were no survivors.

“It shook the whole station,” said Bruce Grine, owner of Grine’s Service Center in Shanksville, about 2 1/2 miles from the crash. “Everybody ran outside, and by that time the fire whistle was blowing.”

United said that flight, a Boeing 757, left Newark, N.J., at 8:01 a.m., headed for San Francisco with 38 passengers, two pilots and five flight attendants.

Doug Pilot, an associational missionary in Somerset, Pa., told Baptist Press people are in disbelief.

“Everyone is in shock as you can imagine,” said Pilot, who serves as a chaplain for the local emergency management personnel as well as The Laurel Highlands Critical Incident Stress Management Team. “This is just terrible.”

Pilot was en route to the scene of the crash, noting that there was nothing left but a crater.

“This is the biggest emergency I’ve had to deal with,” Pilot said. “And I’ve seen quite a bit of violence.”

Pilot said the Baptist community in Pennsylvania will be actively involved in helping the families of the passengers who perished in the crash.

Because of the attacks in New York, the Federal Aviation Administration had ordered all departing flights canceled nationwide, and any planes already in the air were to land at the nearest airport. The Pennsylvania crash came after the order was issued.

According to Somerset County dispatchers, Flight 93 crashed about 10 a.m. about 8 miles east of Jennerstown, WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh reported.

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 told Associated Press. “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.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes