Wallace Miller part 2
Thu Aug 23, 2007 22:32

When they arrived at the National Press Club, the event started with a blessing from the Rev. Larry Hoover, a Lutheran pastor in Somerset County who also runs a family lumberyard. The choice of Hoover had great local significance. He and his wife, Linda, own eight wooded acres with a secluded cabin that was their weekend retreat and their planned retirement home, along with a sturdy old stone cottage occupied by their 34-year-old son, Barry. But the shock wave from Flight 93, a few hundred yards away, spewed debris through the woods with such force that it blew out all the windows and doors and shook the foundation on Barry's place. It turned the whole Hoover property into a cemetery where human remains were still being found months later.

Larry Hoover is a calm, introspective man who loved his cabin as a place of solace, his friends say. He has been a leading voice in stressing that properly honoring the dead and comforting their survivors takes priority over any local concerns. "His dignity and quiet reserve" and generosity have helped set the tone for Somerset, says Tokar-Ickes, because "if we have any local victims, it's the Hoovers."

Reverend Al, as friends still call him, bought the 100-year-old former Mizpah Evangelical Lutheran Church in January with an $18,000 bank loan. He is stripping off vinyl siding to restore the original church building, and gutting the warehouse interior at an estimated cost up to $40,000 to convert it into a "nondenominational" chapel that will also sell gift items.

His honesty is vouched for by Rick King, a local businessman who is assistant chief of the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department and who drove the first fire truck to arrive on the crash scene.

Barry Hoover, 34, stands at a locked gate in the driveway of his home; the flight crashed about 100 yards from his house. The house is now considered structurally unsound, and debris went flying on the property and through the roof and windows blew out. He wasn't home at the time of the crash.

"My home life is not my home life," he says. "I had a routine, like everybody else, and now I don?t. I haven't been able to take anything out, not even a CD."

Now, Hoover is seeing things nobody else saw ???

The impact of the crash left a crater estimated by authorities to be about 10 feet deep and 20 feet wide. It appeared the plane first hit on the downward slope of a hillside and then slid at least 200 yards, scorching a dense area of trees and corn fields. Officials would allow reporters no closer than 300 yards to the scene. From that vantage point, that crater appeared to be barren. Little debris could be seen and there were no signs of victims.

"We haven't seen anything bigger than a phone book, certainly nothing that would resemble a part of a plane," said Capt. Frank Monaco of the Pennsylvania State Police.

But one Lambertsville resident, Barry Hoover, who lives a half-mile from the site said he saw debris scattered at least a mile wide.

"There was stuff everywhere back there. It made you want to drop to your knees and cry for those people," Hoover said.

The crash of the plane, which was also flying as Air Canada Flight 4085, killed all 45 people aboard, United Airlines said.

Ridge, who toured the crash site overhead from a military helicopter, appeared weary and shaken.

"I think I speak for Pennsylvanians and all of America when I say the range of emotions go from rage and anger, to sorrow to horror to nausea," Ridge said. "We all want answers, we want to know why this plane ended up in a cornfield in Somerset County, but it's all just speculation at this time."

now , if Ridge had to be quieted, how better to shut him up, then to give him a spot in the administration ?

Flight 93 crash shook his house like a tornado

Friday, September 14, 2001

By Cindi Lash, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

STONYCREEK, Pa. -- His windows all are shattered and blown out of their frames, his garage door has disappeared and his ceilings have crumbled and fallen onto floor tiles that have been blasted loose from their moorings.

He's not sure when he'll be able to return to what's left of the once-cozy stone cottage nestled in a thick stand of trees with a view of the sun-dappled cornfields below and the rolling hills beyond. But Barry Hoover said his sorrow at seeing his home nearly destroyed is dwarfed by his grief and sympathy for the 45 people who died Tuesday when United Airlines Flight 93 slammed into the hilltop that he calls home.

It looked like what you see after a tornado or hurricane goes through -- a total ruin," he said.

Hoover spent a few minutes unsuccessfully searching for his cat, Woody, but then walked back outside because he was afraid the house might collapse on him. Police then told him he'd have to leave because the house was considered to be part of the crash crime scene.

He hasn't been permitted to return or retrieve belongings since then, so he's been staying in a Somerset hotel and making do with newly purchased or borrowed clothes and toiletries.
That first weekend, county officials were expecting the arrival of Flight 93 families, so a second memorial service was called on their behalf at the Shanksville-Stonycreek regional school on Sunday. A big crowd turned out, by local standards, but the families did not show up because United Airlines had arranged to put them all up at a ski resort 30 miles away

They planted flags and banners in hay bales. So many visitors kept coming and leaving things that local officials realized they needed to manage the site once the FBI left. So, Mike Svonavec, whose family owns the old strip-mining site, donated a patch of land, and the feds and the township of Stonycreek paved and graveled the area as a temporary memorial, a quarter-mile up the slope from where UAL 93 hit.

Some families would not or could not talk to him (miller/coroner) . Some declined his invitation to meet with him in Shanksville. But week after week, others kept coming and Miller kept climbing the little hill at the crash site and trying to explain. So many questions, so few answers. No, they hadn't made any positive identifications yet. No, they didn't know how long it would take. No, it couldn't go faster because the FBI investigation had to take priority. No, they didn't know if and when any personal possessions might be recovered. No, the FBI would not let them release anything to the families yet. And no, they could not tell for sure what happened onboard UAL 93.

Miller has kept in touch with many of the families. Five months after the crash, once the long, painstaking identification process was completed, he realized he had one larger duty remaining. Finally, some fragment of each of the dead had been positively identified, either by DNA or, in a few cases, fingerprints. So now the remains were going to be returned, he says, "and some people were going to look inside the caskets and I wanted them to know it would be shocking. I had to explain . .

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