On September 11, 2001, Beverly Eckert was talking to her beloved husband on a cell phone as he fought to escape the World Trade Center. When the south tower collapsed, she was still on the phone with him and listened to him die.
In the days, weeks and years after the 9/11 attacks, Eckert was a tireless advocate for the victims' families. She spearheaded protests that led politicians to set aside more land for a memorial at Ground Zero, fought to ensure federal authorities would thoroughly probe the cause of the twin towers' collapse and spoke eloquently again and again about her husband, Sean Rooney, and the many others who died that day.
Today, Eckert's relatives are grieving again. She was one of the 49 people who perished in a plane crash in Buffalo late Thursday. Eckert was traveling upstate to celebrate the 58th birthday of her late husband, who was a native of Buffalo. She was scheduled to deliver an address to Canisius High School, where Sean's legacy was to be honored with a scholarship.
"We know she was on that plane and now she's with him" Eckert’s sister Sue Borque told The Buffalo News at the Buffalo Airport where flight 3047 was scheduled to land at 10:40 p.m.
Eckert, who was a member of the 9/11 Commission's Family Steering Committee, spearheaded a push to have the airlines held liable for the security lapses and other missteps that allowed terrorists to hijack the passenger jets. She told Congress she was suing the airlines because "lawmakers capped the liability of the airlines at the behest of lobbyists who descended on Washington while the September 11 fires still smoldered.”
Eckert also was instrumental in securing a compensation fund for the families of 9/11 victims. Her impassioned plea before the House of Representatives in 2004 contributed to a $7 billion pay-out to more than 5,000 families.