Natchez mom: Son left London in time

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; News of the Thursday morning bombings in London sent one Natchez mother into action.

Her son was scheduled to leave London early Thursday. Did he make the flight? Was he trapped in the underground transportation system that was the target of explosions that rocked that system?

Richard Cassagne, son of Susan and Gabriel Cassagne, was to board a plane and fly home after a year’s internship at Griffiths Armor, an insurance brokerage firm located in the London financial district.

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&uot;I thought Richard was probably in the air by then,&uot; Susan, director of the local public library system, said. &uot;But my fear was that he was in the tube when it stopped.&uot;

After many phone calls to British Airways and failures to connect with a person instead of a taped message, she finally &045; after about an hour on the phone &045; found someone at the airline to confirm that Richard indeed had made the flight.

&uot;The gentleman I talked to said in normal circumstances he could not have given out the information, but he understood these were not normal circumstances,&uot; Susan Cassagne said.

Later Thursday, she spoke with her son after his arrival in Philadelphia, Penn., where he was to board the final flight to New Orleans.

&uot;It turned out that he was on the tube on the way to the airport when they stopped it,&uot; Susan Cassagne said. Authorities ordered everyone off, and Richard took a cab to Heathrow Airport from the underground station.

&uot;He made it to his flight, but only five minutes before it left,&uot; she said. &uot;He knew nothing about what had happened in London.&uot;

Across town, others worried about colleagues in London received a reassuring phone call.

Terry Estes, a Natchez agent for State Farm Insurance, and his wife, Paula, have been in London for a meeting since July 1. They are scheduled to return today.

&uot;They called this morning to let us know they were OK,&uot; said Shannon Derrick, who works at the Estes office. &uot;I talked to Paula, and she said they were very close to where the bombing happened and they were shaken by it but were OK.&uot;

The couple had plans to visit one more museum and do some final shopping on their last day in the city and were headed in the direction of an area where explosions occurred.

&uot;She said they went back to the hotel as soon as they heard and they planned to stay there until time to go to the airport Friday,&uot; Derrick said.