SHANKSVILLE, Pa. —
Berkebile’s wife, Cathy, said her husband initially offered to show the video to news outlets covering the Flight 93 story, but no one was interested in looking at it.
So, she added, he kept it to himself until he read in the Johnstown, Pa., Tribune-Democrat about the conspiracy controversy surrounding McClatchey’s photo. That’s when he decided to give her the video to validate her mushroom cloud picture, dubbed “End of Serenity.”
“We never considered it might be important (until then),” said Mrs. Berkebile.
McClatchey said she only recently turned the video over to the Park Service because she did not want the Berkebiles to experience the conspiracy “fruitcakes harassing them" like they had her.
With the death of the Dave Berkebile seven months ago, she added, she decided to donate it to the oral history project.
“I think it's remarkable that Mr. Berkebile got it on video,” said McClatchey. “Now I understand why people always told me they got goose bumps when they saw my photo. That's how I feel watching the video. It is so awesome.”
Mrs. Berkebile explained the video’s background. She said the couple heard a thunderclap-like noise around 10:05 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001. She said her husband quickly rushed out the door with a video camera.
“Everything was totally visible,” she said of the sky scene.
She said the Berkebiles drove to the crash site after her husband shot the video, and were among the first there.
“We thought we would get as many survivors as we could into the car and bring them over and they could call their families and let them know they were OK,” recalled Mrs. Berkebile.
“You don’t even stop to think that when a plane crashes there usually are no survivors. There’s just that urge to help some people.”
Arlene Johns is a reporter for the Johnstown, Pa., Tribune-Democrat. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.