I was due on flight to terror

A SCHOOL parents' evening proved a lifesaver for a South Tyneside man who almost boarded one of the USA terror flights.

John Grieves changed his plans at the last minute to fly from Newark, unaware the plane had been seized by terrorists.

The United Airlines Flight 93 later crashed near Pittsburgh, killing everyone on board.

John today told how he almost took the flight to disaster.

The Hebburn-born man, 38, who has only lived in New Jersey, USA, for a year, said: "I was supposed to be flying from Newark around nine that Tuesday morning, and the news reports said that was one of the suicide flights. That was my flight, which I cancelled to be at a parents' evening.

"Either way, I could have been rubbing shoulders with the terrorists in the terminal. I don't really want to think about it too much."

John later told his wife, Charlotte, he would have "taken a crack at the hijackers," if he had known they were in the Newark terminal.

But John, a top executive for multi-national company Unilever, said the terror attacks on the World Trade Centre still hit home in his adopted USA neighbourhood.

"There were people at work crying in the corridors, because brothers and husbands were in the building and their kids went to schools at the foot of the tower."

John's mother, Julia Devine, 57, of Cuthbert Street, Hebburn, said: "It's horrible. I cannot get it out of mind about what might have happened if John had stuck to his plans and got on that flight."