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THE PENNSYLVANIA CRASH
Searchers Find Plane Cockpit Voice Recorder
By SARA RIMER and JERE LONGMAN
The Associated PressPennsylvania state troopers patrolling the area where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed passed a makeshift memorial on Friday.
HAMPION, Pa., Sept. 14 As the families of those killed in the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 began to gather here, investigators found the crucial cockpit voice recorder deep in the crash crater and sent it to Washington for analysis.
The search continued for the remains of the 45 people on the plane.
An F.B.I. spokesman, Bill Crowley, said the recorder, which was found at a depth of 25 feet about 8:30 p.m., appeared to be in good condition.
The recorder is designed to record the last 30 minutes or conversation in the cockpit and could provide more detail about what happened on the plane.
Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said at an earlier news conference in Shanksville, near the crash site, that the flight’s other black box, the data recorder, recovered yesterday, was also found in the crater carved by the plane, at a depth of about 15 feet.
Cell phone calls by three passengers on the flight to family members suggest that passengers may have tried to overcome the hijackers. Senator Specter said he believed the hijackers had intended to crash the plane into the Capitol.
Whatever happened on the plane, officials were eager to believe that the passengers on one plane stood up to the hijackers.
Senator Specter said he was looking into the possibility of awarding the passengers the Medal of Freedom posthumously.
And at a memorial service for the victims in nearby Somerset, Gov. Tom Ridge echoed that praise tonight as he recalled touring the crash site on Tuesday.
“They undoubtedly saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives,” Governor Ridge said of the passengers.
“What appears to be a charred hole in the ground,” he said, is “truly a monument to heroism.”
At the earlier news conference yesterday, Mr. Crowley, repeated previous statements that the military had no involvement in the crash.
The sighting of two planes within 25 miles of the crash site had led to speculation that the military shot down the Boeing 757 to keep it from reaching Washington.
Mr. Crowley said that neither plane had had anything to do with the crash.
About 40 miles northeast of here, coroners and forensic archaeologists and anthropologists began delivering remains to a temporary morgue in a Pennsylvania National Guard Armory near Shanksville.
Dennis Dirkmaat, a professor of forensic anthropology at Mercyhurst College in Erie, who is helping in the effort, said that DNA, dental remains and fingerprints would be used to try to identify the victims.
Professor Dirkmaat said the impact of the crash might have made identifying all 45 victims impossible.
“We really feel very badly about what happened,” Professor Dirkmaat said. “We have a job to do for the families.”
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