Sean Rooney worked on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower until a plane crashed into it on September 11, 2001. Beverly Eckert, his wife, would die as a result of a plane crash as well when a Continental Connections flight fell from the sky in Buffalo, New York, February 12, 2009, and killed all 49 people aboard and one in the house into which the plane crashed. According to the Los Angeles Times, Eckert was on her way to Buffalo to open a scholarship in his memory. It was also in honor of Sean Rooney’s 58th birthday.
“It’s not fair to have another loved one [killed] in that kind of fashion. It’s pretty shocking,” Eckert’s sister-in-law, Cynthia Blest, told the Buffalo News concerning the plane crash.
Friends recalled how Beverly Eckert would tell the story of the phone call she received that morning. He told her he loved her, then there was explosion. Then silence. They said she often cried when recounting the story.
Beverly Eckert had met with President Barack Obama just last week. After 9/11, Eckert became a political activist. Working with others who had had relatives to die on 9/11, the widow helped facilitate the passage of the 2004 legislation that reformed the U. S. intelligence system.
“I did all of this for Sean’s memory, I did it for him,” she said, after the legislation passed. “I just wanted Sean to come home from work. Maybe now, someone else’s Sean will get to come home.”
President Obama had kind words for the 9/11 widow: Tragic events such as these remind us of the fragility of life and the value of every single day.”
“One person who understood that well was Beverly Eckert, who was on that flight and who I met with just a few days ago. You see, Beverly lost her husband on 9/11 and became a tireless advocate for those families whose lives were forever changed on that September day.
“I pray that her family finds peace and comfort in the hard days ahead.”
At the plane crash site, the two data recorders, known as “black boxes,” were recovered. Investigators, hoping to shed some light on the plane crash, listened to the recorders, finding that the crew spoke of “significant ice buildup” on the windshield and wings of the plane shortly before the crash. According to the Associated Press, officials at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believe the icing may have contributed to the crash but are reluctant to issue a definitive statement until more is known. But besides rain and sleet, flying conditions were seen as normal for this time of year.
A witness on CNN stated that he saw the plane just before it crashed, its nose pointed downward. Experts say that a downward tilt to the nose indicates that the pilot was attempting to get lift back under the wings, suggesting that the engines had possibly stalled. Unfortunately, with the plane flying at such a low altitude (2,000 feet when it engaged its landing gear) did not allow it much room to gain the speed it needed to come out of the stall.
It is also known that the plane went through a severe pitch and roll just before it crashed. Each piece of evidence adds to story of the Continental Connection flight’s story, although officials remain cautious to draw conclusions. Steve Chealander, spokesman for the NTSB, stated, “We are not ruling anything in or anything out at this time.”
Flight 3407 to Buffalo is the first fatal commercial airline accident in the United States since 2006, when a Conair flight took off from a runway that was too short and crashed in Lexington, Kentucky. The crashed killed 49 people.
The Buffalo plane crash also killed a man, Douglas C. Wielinski, 61, in his home. His wife, Karen, 57, and daughter Jill, 22, escaped the burning house.