Linda Gronlund was a sailor, a scuba diver, a brown belt in karate, a lawyer, a car mechanic, a gardener, a photographer, a gourmet cook, a guitarist, an emergency medical technician and a volunteer with autistic children. She planned to start piano lessons in the fall. As manager of environmental compliance for BMW, she spearheaded the development of a hydrogen-fueled car.
Gronlund of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., would have turned 47 on Thursday. She was flying to San Francisco to celebrate in wine country with her boyfriend, Joe DeLuca. They met because they both loved car racing.
On Tuesday morning, Gronlund called her sister, Elsa Strong, from the airport. She was excited about taking a vacation.
Strong went to a meeting at her son's school. She heard about the World Trade Center and the hijacked planes. She rushed home, hoping that her sister had left a message, saying she was stranded at the airport.
Strong saw the blinking red light on the answering machine and pushed play. It was her sister, angry. She said she was on Flight 93 and the plane had been hijacked by terrorists with a bomb. Gronlund said others had already taken out the World Trade Center.
She said how much she loved her sister, how much she loved her parents. She said she was going to miss Strong so much.
"And then she said goodbye," Strong said. Fifteen minutes after the message was left, the plane crashed in Pennsylvania.