9/11 Twists of Fate
Jan. 30, 2006— -- The experiences of three people who were scheduled to fly on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001 -- the now-famous flight that ultimately crashed in a Pennsylvania field when the passengers stormed the cockpit and wrestled control of the plane from the terrorists -- are the subject of a new documentary on the A&E network.
At the last minute, the three would-be passengers, Heather Ross Ogle, Frank Robertazzi and Daniel Belardinelli, changed their plans and saved their lives.
Ogle, a flight surgeon, was at her parent's suburban New York home and was planning on flying back to San Francisco that morning.
"I think the flight was around 8 o'clock, and I had to wake her about five," said Ogle's father, Alexander Ross.
"And I'm like: 'Oh yeah, whatever Dad,'" Ogle said. "And then he says a third time: 'Heather, you're going to miss the flight.' I was tired. I was comfortable, and I didn't want to budge from that bed."
In East Hanover, N.J., Robertazzi woke up at his normal time. It was Tuesday, which meant he had to go to San Francisco for a meeting at his company's headquarters.
"The flight I usually took was United 93 or the flight that operated in that time, which was 8 o'clock," he said. "My daughter was just starting kindergarten, and I was having so much fun taking her to kindergarten class."
He decided instead to take his daughter to school and make a minor change to his schedule.
Belardinelli was working on a new painting in his downtown New York studio. He had originally planned to be on the 8 a.m. flight with his uncle Billy Cashman.
"Something came up that I just could not juggle and that's why I called him and I said: 'I can't make it,' so we had this long conversation and it was: 'Don't worry about it. There'll be others. Come on the next one,'" he said.
Flight 93 took off at 8:42 a.m. with 37 passengers and seven crew members. National reports confirmed that the plane that crashed in the Pennsylvania field was in fact the plane that Ogle, Robertazzi and Belardinelli would have been on.
"I would've been sitting right there in 1A," Ogle said. "I would've seen the terrorist walk to the front of the plane. I would've seen the whole thing. I think about it a lot."
Belardinelli, who lost his uncle in the flight, said it was difficult for him to grapple with what could have become his fate.
"It's just something so final," he said. "It's so tragic. You don't want to accept it as being true, you know. … And here's my uncle. He got on that plane and I didn't. I think it's a random thing and either your time is up or it's not."
Ogle said someone came up to her at work and asked to touch her forehead because they told her she had "been touched by an angel."
"I said: 'Oh, what do you mean?' And they said: 'Well, you were supposed to be on that flight but an angel intervened,'" Ogle said.
For Robertazzi, it was a second chance to answer a calling.
"I guess, there's an element of faith or there's an element of maybe there's some important things I need to do," he said. "I've been given these 40 years … and I don't want to miss that calling. It's given me a better perspective about what's important."
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