Saul Abramovitz ignoring his mother’s pleas for him not to undertake this trip, sat comfortably in first class silently chanting the Tefilat HaDerech, “May it be Your will, LORD, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, an ambush along the way.”
Saul composed himself and began. There was a noise – a loud thump, he remembered, but the plane kept going, until we hit the sky equivalent of a speed bump. That’s what it felt like, he repeated to the NTSB guy. It felt like we hit a speed bump.
That was not the terrible part. No that came later. We were in the middle of a turn to the right –no ah ah south. People were still buckled into their seats. When someone – I don’t know who, shouted, ‘the engines have stopped!” All of a sudden there was silence. There was no more talking. No more laughter. Just silence. All conversation had ceased in mid sentence as we all listened for the sounds of the engines. Seconds seems like hours as we waited. You know like ah that guy, ah, Captain Kirk, but in that Twilight Zone show, where he’s looking out the window at the gremlin. We kept looking out the windows. We kept hoping that the engines would start.
He paused for a few seconds and his eyes looked as if he were watching something far away and far removed from himself. Agent Schlade had seen that look before. He knew exactly what to do in order to get Saul Abramovitz talking again. He casually brought his right hand up to his mouth and softly cleared his throat while shifting his weight in the chair. It was the equivalence of a slap on the back of the head without the violence.
The Agent’s movements brought him back from the horror behind his eyes. Saul continued his narrative. “Then we started falling. That was not the worst of it. It seemed like we fell forever. In those moments, we all knew we were going to die. The more we fell the louder the silence got. The screaming didn’t start until after we hit.”
You must understand, Saul said, grabbing Agent Schlade’s arm, I was determined to live. After all, someone was trying to kill me! And I sure as hell was not going to let that happen.
I didn’t know! I was confused! I don’t know anything about planes. Plus I hit my head when we crashed. I was disoriented. There was so much chaos and confusion. It was dark. People were screaming. I was dazed from the crash and then when I unfastened my seat belt, I hit my head again. People were stepping all over me trying to get out. I pushed my way forward – towards the door. There was so much going on inside the plane. People were trying to get out. I was closest to the door. People were screaming, ‘get the door open!” “Let us out.” We thought we were going to burn. So, I opened the door. Oh God, I was confused.