YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections
(Page 2 of 2)


Moussaoui Jury Hears the Panic From 9/11

April 11, 2006|Richard A. Serrano | Times Staff Writer

"He thought a stewardess had been killed," his father said. "He said certainly somebody else was piloting the plane. He said it was a very bumpy ride and people were throwing up all over the place. He said he thought they were going to crash the plane into a building."

He heard Peter say, "Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God." The father said: "I thought I heard somebody scream in the background too. I looked at the TV and saw the plane fly into the World Trade Center."

Mary Ellen Salamone of New Jersey knew her husband, John, worked high up in the World Trade Center. He was a stockbroker for Cantor Fitzgerald. Hearing nothing from him, she said, she tried repeatedly to reach him.

"I called him a million times. I was so desperate to talk to him, to tell him I loved him before he died."

She never got through. Neither did John when he tried leaving a phone message at home. "He called about 10:10," she said. "But it was just static."

She was among those who identified the photographs displayed by prosecutors, pictures from wedding albums, from birthday celebrations and family vacations to China, from trips to the neighborhood swimming pool and a Yankees game.

Some could hardly hold their right arms straight up to take the oath, their hands shaking so badly. Some drank water from a small cup when the memories overtook them, or buried their faces in tissue. Many left the witness stand emotionally wrought but also, it seemed, relieved.

"Today is closure for me on many levels," said Ronald Hans Clifford.

He is an Irish immigrant living in New Jersey. He happened to be in the World Trade Center courtyard, and tried to help a woman badly burned there. All the time he was unaware that his sister and niece were aboard the second plane that hit the second tower above him.

"I had no clue," he said.

The burned woman he tried to save, Jeannieann Maffeo, was 40 and lived in agony for another 41 days in a New York burn center. Clifford did not know that either; he could only recall how together they recited the Lord's Prayer until he and others could get her to an ambulance.

Salamone, in her testimony, told the jury she realized she was part of a much larger drama that day.

"I'm not the only widow in the world who had young children. I know that," she said. "There are so many 9/11 stories. People with ideal families and ideal stories, and it's such a tragedy that such happiness ended."

Los Angeles Times Articles