Beverly Eckert and Sean Rooney met when they were only 16 years old. He called his wife from the 105th floor to say goodbye after the plane crashed into the WTC.
The 9/11 attacks claimed thousands of lives. Each story is heartbreaking as the next. But not many people had the opportunity to even say goodbye to their loved ones as they saw the end coming near. But Beverly Eckert got a surprising call from her husband Sean Rooney minutes before his death.
On that fateful day, Sean was on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. He first called his wife to let her know that an accident had occurred in the next tower. After a while, he called his wife again but this time to say goodbye.
"There was a building in flames underneath him, but Sean didn’t even flinch. He stayed composed, just talking to me the way he always did. I will always be in awe of the way he faced death," Beverly told StoryCorps. "Not an ounce of fear—not when the windows around him were getting too hot to touch; not when the smoke was making it hard to breathe." When she got a call from Sean after learning about the plane crash, she was almost relieved and that he had safely made it out. But as he continued to talk to her she realized he was not coming back.
“When I heard his voice on the phone, I was so happy, thinking he had made it out," she said, according to The Sun. "He told me he was on the 105th floor. I knew right away Sean was never coming home." She added, "He told me to give his love to his family, and then we talked about all the happiness we shared during our lives. In the end, as the smoke got thicker, he kept whispering, ‘I love you,' over and over.” She tried to ask him if there was a way he could make it out. But the stairwell was full of smoke and he didn't think he stood a chance.
"I asked if it hurt for him to breathe and he paused for a moment, and says, 'No.' He loved me enough to lie," she told NPR. They soon stopped talking about escape routes and instead focused on the happiness they'd shared together. "I told him that I wanted to be there with him, but he said, no, no, he wanted me to live a full life," she said. "I just wanted to crawl through the phone lines to him, to hold him, one last time." She then suddenly heard a loud explosion through the phone. "It reverberated for several seconds. We held our breath. I know we both realized what was about to happen. Then I heard a sharp crack, followed by the sound of an avalanche. I heard Sean gasp once as the floor fell out from underneath him. I called his name into the phone over and over. Then I just sat there huddled on the floor holding the phone to my heart,” she recalled.
"I think about that last half-hour with Sean all the time. I remember how I didn't want that day to end, terrible as it was, I didn't want to go to sleep because as long as I was awake, it was still a day that I'd shared with Sean." The two had met at a high school dance when they were only 16 years old. Beverly remembered her husband's warm brown eyes, dark curly hair, and as "a good hugger." Even on his last day they had hugged and kissed goodbye. Sadly, in 2009, Beverly died in the crash of Continental Flight 3407. She was on her way to Buffalo to celebrate Rooney's birthday.