Jet Crash Victims' Stories Start To Emerge
Loved Ones Describe Lives, Last Contacts

By Amy Goldstein and Cheryl W. Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Lauren Grandcolas had taken a few days off from her sales job at Good Housekeeping magazine in San Francisco so she could attend her grandmother's funeral in New Jersey. Now, she was on her way home from Newark when her husband received the phone call.

"We have been hijacked," she told her husband, Jack, from United Airlines Flight 93. "They are being kind. I love you." Then she hung up.

Soon after, Grandcolas, in her mid-thirties and living in lovely Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge, became one of 266 people aboard four aircraft -- and a roster of hundreds if not thousands in Arlington and Manhattan -- who perished in yesterday's choreography of terrorism.

The victims included a 76-year-old Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Francis E. Grogan, who had been bound for a vacation with his younger sister in Ramona, Calif., before assuming a new position as the chaplain of a retirement home for Holy Cross brothers in Upstate New York.

And Garnet "Ace" Bailey, 53, a hockey player who had become director of scouting for the Los Angeles Kings. A member of two Stanley Cup-winning teams, he was returning to Los Angeles from Boston with one of his assistants in time for the opening of the team's training camp today.

And David Angell, the executive producer of the television show "Frasier," who was traveling on the American flight to Los Angeles with his wife, Lynn, on their way back from their summer home in Chatham, Mass.

And, presumably, John O'Neill, a 31-year FBI veteran and head of counterterrorism in the New York field office who retired last month and went to work as director of security at the World Trade Center.

Even as the identities of the first known victims slowly emerged during the day and into the night, yesterday was -- as much as anything -- a period of uncertainty over who the violence had claimed.

Officials at TJX of Framingham, Mass., which operates the TJ Maxx and Marshall's department stores, said that seven of its employees had tickets for the American Boston flight. Officials had no confirmation they were on the plane, but the chain closed its stores early yesterday and offered its workers counseling.

At a Hilton hotel next to Logan Airport, relatives arrived throughout the day at a relief center hastily set up by the Massachusetts Port Authority. It was staffed by counselors, members of the clergy and FBI agents, who interviewed families in individual rooms. Some families arrived at the hotel in search of an answer, others in search of solace. A Red Cross volunteer said one FBI agent inside, based in Boston, had told her he'd lost two friends who left yesterday morning -- one on the United flight, the other on the American flight -- and planned to meet in Los Angeles to treat themselves to a spa.

Other families worried in private. Sharif Chowdhury, of Lorton, and his wife were in tears yesterday, unable to reach their daughter, Shakila Yasmin, who worked on the World Trade Center's 97th floor, as they dialed her phone numbers at work and home and her cell phone 60 or 70 times.

"Every moment, we are calling to her. We are not getting any information," Chowdhury said of his 26-year-old daughter, who had moved to New York 1 1/2 years ago when she married a co-worker at Marsh USA, an insurance company with offices on the North Tower's upper floors.

Chowdhury said he had last spoken with his daughter at midnight the night before, just after she came home, excited, from a first visit to a friend's new baby. "She was happy," her father said.

The World Trade Center attack claimed some of those who sought to minimize the deaths. New York officials said that about 265 firefighters had been killed in the rescue efforts. Some 78 New York police officers also were reported to have died.

O'Neill, the Trade Center's new security director, is believed to have managed to work his way outside after the attack, said Robert Blitzer, a former top FBI counterterrorism official and a close friend. But then he went back into one of the towers and is assumed to have died.

Major employers at the enormous towers were trying to measure what -- and who -- they had lost.

The largest tenant, the investment company Morgan Stanley, occupied nearly 25 floors. It had 3,500 workers in the complex, including 2,500 in the South Tower, which housed its retail operations, and 1,000 in the North Tower. The company opened a toll-free line for people seeking information about its employees.

London-based Cantor Fitzgerald International, as well as eSpeed International, an electronic trading service spun off by Cantor, employed 1,000 workers on the 101st and 103rd to 105th floors.

In San Francisco, Henrik Slipsager of ABM Industries Inc., said his company employed more than 800 engineers, janitors and lighting technicians at the World Trade Center. "It is, of course, far too early for us to assess the human and financial toll of this tragedy," Slipsager said.

As the afternoon wore into evening, doctors and nurses at St. Vincent's Medical Center, the major trauma center closest to the towers, were advised to grab an early dinner, to be ready for new casualties as rescue workers made headway in prying people from the building's wreckage. As of last evening, the hospital had treated 319 patients injured in the attack. Fifty were in critical condition. Three of them had died -- two from smoke inhalation and one who had been fatally crushed, a hospital physician said.

Across the Hudson River from the smoldering towers, seven New Jersey hospitals treated 600 people who fled the catastrophe on tugs, ferries and police boats, said Jerry Cala, the director of Jersey City's Office of Emergency Management. As of last night, several patients at those hospitals were listed in critical condition, but none had died, said Mary Beth Ray-Simone, vice president for emergency management at the Jersey City Medical Center.

While the injured poured into hospitals in the New York and Washington areas, there was no evidence that any of the passengers or crew members of any of the four planes had survived.

The Boston-based crew of American Flight 11 had included the captain, John Ogonowski, 52, of Dracut, Mass., and co-pilot, Tom McGuinness, of Portsmouth, N.H. Late in the afternoon, Ogonowski's younger, brother, Jim, spoke with reporters outside the pilot's house, saying that his brother was married, had three children and loved agriculture and open spaces. "I consider my brother a hero for many reasons," Jim Ogonowski said.

The passengers included Danny Lewin, 31, on his way to a business meeting for Akamai Technologies Inc., the Boston-based computer company he co-founded three years ago with one of his professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Born in Denver and raised in Jerusalem, Lewin was an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, and he had won awards in Israel and at MIT for his work in computer science.

Edmund Glazer, 41, the chief financial officer for the fiber optics firm MRV, was also on the flight. His wife, Candy, said last night from their home in Wellesley, Mass., that he had called her from the runway to say he had just made it onto the flight. She said she was talking to counselors about how to break the news to their 4-year-old son, Nathan.

Angell, the producer of the award-winning NBC show, and his wife had attended a family wedding last weekend and were on board, even though they had originally planned to take a later flight.

His brother, Kenneth, the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vt., still believed his brother and sister-in-law had been spared when he led a Mass yesterday to mourn the victims of the attack. Later, he learned from relatives that the couple had boarded the earlier flight.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company