One of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Pittsburgh after being hijacked in Tuesday’s tragedy, was a former Cal rugby player, and both his mother and former coach believe he may have been part of an effort against the terrorists.
Mark Bingham, 31, was a member of the Cal rugby team from 1988 to 1991, and last spring attended a reunion of the 1991 national championship team on the UC Berkeley campus.
“It was great to see Mark again, to renew my friendship with him,” said Cal rugby head coach Jack Clark, who coached Bingham during his Cal career.
Clark said Bingham, a public relations executive who lived in San Francisco, did a lot of traveling back and forth from the East Coast for business.
Bingham called his mother, Alice Hoglan, from the plane early Tuesday morning. Hoglan, a United flight attendant, said her son told her the plane had been taken over by three men who said they had a bomb. Hoglan believes her son may have made an effort to foil the hijackers’ plot.
“He was probably close to where the hijackers did their thing,” Hoglan said. “It gives me a great deal of comfort to know my son may have been able to avert the killing of many, many innocent people.”
A phone call by another passenger shortly before the plane crashed indicated that there may indeed have been a group of passengers who were readying to attack the terrorists.
Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., 38, called his wife moments before the hijacked plane crashed in rural western Pennsylvania with 45 people aboard.
“He said, ‘I know we’re all going to die – there’s three of us who are going to do something about it,”’ Burnett told his wife, Deena, according to a reverend at the family’s church who counseled the wife. “He then said, ‘I love you, honey,’ and that was the end of conversation.”
Clark said it wouldn’t surprise him if Bingham had been part of the group.
“That would be consistent with my memory of Mark,” Clark said. “He was a brave young man. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he put up some resistance.”
Hoglan spoke from her home on Wednesday, where friends and family had gathered to mourn Bingham’s death.
“(Mark) had friends who were Islamic, friends who were Jewish. He was just a man of the world. This house is full of his friends here now,” Hoglan said. “We loved him very much. He was just the light in our lives. I’m very proud he was my son.”
– The Associated Press
contributed to this report.