'I Promised I Wouldn't Hang Up'

Lisa Jefferson, the phone supervisor who took Todd Beamer's call on Flight 93, believes God called her for a purpose.

Lisa JeffersonHow did you happen to be the one to take the call from Todd Beamer on 9/11?

Taking the Call

I was the supervisor over the call center in Oakbrook, Illinois, for Verizon Airfone, and someone had just come into the call center and asked me if I heard about the two planes that had just crashed into the World Trade Center and at that point, I told her no. And I said, “Two planes?” I said to myself, that didn’t sound like a mistake. You know, it sounded like it was meant for a purpose. As I stepped out of my office, I probably took six steps, and then I was stopped by a representative that received the actual phone call from Todd in flight. She called me over to her station and told me that she had a gentleman on her line and his plane was being hijacked. I asked her information that I needed to report to our surveillance center. And by the time I came back, she appeared to be traumatized, and that’s when I told her I would take the call over…I was asking her additional information and she wasn’t answering me. She was just dazed.

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And so I actually lifted her up out of her seat and put her in the seat next to me, and I put her headset on and took her call over.

How did you manage to stay calm?

'Todd Was Calm'
Well, you know, Todd, when he came to me, he was calm. When he told me his plane was being hijacked—when I took the call over, I said my name was Mrs. Jefferson and I understand your plane is being hijacked. And he asked me if I knew what they wanted--was it ransom money or what. But he was calm through the entire conversation, and I tried to stay just as calm with him. He got a little scared when the plane took a dive. He raised his voice. But he stayed calm through the entire conversation. He made me doubt the severity of the call.

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Interview by Wendy Schuman
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