How did you happen to be the one to take the call from Todd Beamer on 9/11?
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.
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?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.
I could just not believe this was actually happening. And I had to look at the screen. We have monitors that let us know if they are in flight or on the ground and what airline and flight information. And everything he was telling me was adding up. I could hear the commotion in the background and after we continued to talk, I’m thinking to myself, this is for real. This is a real hijacking situation. At one point, he thought I had left the phone. I told him I was still here. He was calling out my name and I didn’t want to lose his call. I told him I would be there for him. And I stayed ‘til the end.
One of the most moving things that most people learned about this was when you prayed the Lord’s Prayer with Todd. I know it brought his family a lot of comfort.
Yes, it did. His wife called me a pillar of strength and told me that she was glad that I was the one to take the call and to be on the other end and to be there for her husband.
It’s remarkable that you had the presence of mind to be able to pray with Todd.
A lot of people told me that they wouldn’t have been able to do it, but I guess, God just works in mysterious ways, and I can only say that’s why he used me because I made myself available to him.
When did you realize that you and Todd’s wife had the same first name? When the plane took a dive. And like I said, when I took the call over, I introduced myself as Mrs. Jefferson, but when the plane took a dive and he thought they were going down, he hollered, Lisa! And I had a look on my face like, how’d he know my first name? I’m sure I answered as Mrs. Jefferson. And then I said, “Yes?” And he said, “Oh, I’m sorry. That’s my wife’s name.” And at that point, I knew we held the same name and I just—it was just so many coincidences that we had. At that point, I knew that his wife’s name was Lisa and when I told him my name was Lisa also, he said, “Oh, my God.” He couldn’t believe it.