ShareThis Page

Judge: No mining rights to Flight 93 site

| Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

A Somerset County company does not have coal mining rights to land beneath the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose said Svonavec Inc. of Somerset failed to prove it had mining rights under the memorial site when the federal government took the land in September 2009 through eminent domain.

“Defendant relies primarily on missing, unrecorded, and incomplete documents to support its chain of title for the alleged coal leases,” Ambrose said in the order issued on Tuesday. “... Svonavec Inc. has not shown that it possessed any right to mine the coal underlying the property.”

Svonavec, a coal and quarry company, owned about 275 acres of land that the government took, including six acres where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

An attempt to reach the company on Saturday evening was not successful. A spokesperson for the Families of Flight 93, a nonprofit organization representing the Flight 93 passengers and crew, also could not be contacted.

The 40 passengers and crew members on Flight 93 are credited with storming the cockpit and preventing terrorists from crashing the plane into landmarks in Washington. The plane crashed in a field in Stonycreek. All aboard were killed.

The memorial will be built in phases. The first phase, dedicated last year, includes a Memorial Plaza, which overlooks the crash site.

The crash site, called Sacred Ground, is off-limits to the public. It will be left untouched and is considered the final resting place of the passengers and crew. Only family members will have access, though the public can view it from the Memorial Plaza.

The names of the passengers and crew are inscribed on a white marble wall that follows the path of the doomed plane.

Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.