Snapshot: Terror in the treetops

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington unhinged the lives of most Americans. Here are reactions and experiences from people in the auto industry.

Impatient parishoner

John Yates, CEO of PrivilegeONE Networks LLC, a Vero Beach, Fla., company that markets a credit card program for car dealers, noted about 2,000 people showed up for church the Sunday after the attacks. His Catholic parish has about 500 members. When the priest spoke about patience and forgiveness, someone in the back stood up and shouted: "Patience - hell - I am damn mad."

Age of innocence

An eerie feeling came over Jeff Beddow last week when he watched his 2-year-old son play with his blocks. Beddow, 41, the public relations director of the National Automobile Dealers Association, saw his son build a small tower, then crash a toy plane into it.

"He doesn't understand and wasn't bothered by the crash. He was just playing," Beddow said. "He is so young, I am not worried about the psychological impact on him."

But Beddow is concerned about his 5-year-old son, who is old enough to understand the TV images and has shown no visible reaction to the tragedies.

Welcome wedding

Richard Schaum, chief engineer for the Chrysler group, was desperate to get back to Michigan from Europe for the wedding of his 24-year-old daughter, Karey.

"It crossed my mind to swim," Schaum said, recalling the flight and other arrangements he had made to get home. He finally booked a seat on a Delta flight from Stuttgart to Atlanta on Friday.

As he emerged from the U.S. Customs clearance in Atlanta, he saw banners welcoming the stranded Americans home. "People were singing and cheering. I kept looking over my shoulder for someone famous but realized the Delta employees did this for everyone."

On Saturday, he got to walk his oldest daughter down the aisle. "People go to lots of weddings, but everyone there Saturday was ready for a party," said Schaum, adding that many relatives had driven hundreds of miles.

Reality check

Otis Mitchell, 38, was driving along 16th Street in Arlington, Va., the morning of Sept. 11 when he could not help but hear the jet flying overhead. "It was flying just over the treetops," said Mitchell, a technician for Rosenthal Chevrolet-Chrysler-Jeep in Arlington, who was doing a road test for a car he repaired.

"I knew it wasn't going to make it to the airport." The plane crashed before he could get back to the shop. Mitchell saw a huge cloud of smoke as he approached the dealership on Columbia Pike and was jarred by the jet's explosion 15 minutes later. Mitchell, unable to work for the rest of the day, said: "When you see something like this, it is a wake-up call."

Staff Reporters Donna Harris and Diana T. Kurylko contributed to this report

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