Chronology of Events

 

DAY ONE, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

 

8:52AM, RALPH CALLING FROM HIS CELL PHONE

Hi Dad,

Something just happened at the WTC.  We either got hit by a bomb or plane.  I am ok.  We are ok.  I love you, but I have to go now.  We are evacuating.  Call you later

That call never came.  After this, his cell phone was busy. He most likely offered his phone to others who did not have a phone to call their loved ones until the system was knocked off the air.

My wife, Helga, and I turned on the TV, which had instant coverage from the WTC.  Seeing the smoke billowing from the top floor and knowning Ralph’s office location on Tower One, 105th floor facing west, we realized the seriousness of the situation.  We placed a call to our son, Stephan, who resides in Washington, DC; but he was attending a meeting in Dallas, Texas.  He tried to make arrangements to meet us in New York. 

Our good friend and neighbour, Elke, came over immediately to provide us with comfort and assitance.  The news spread quickly.  We received numereous calls and e-mails of concerns from relatives, friends and collegues who knew about Ralph’s workplace.

Helga and I realized we had to be in New York to look for Ralph and help others.  Ralph’s good friend, Charlie, husband of Jill and parents of Ralph’s godson, Nicholas, immediately offered to drive us across the border
DAY TWO, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2001

  

After receiving conflicting reports about border control, we were helped by a CTV reporter in Fort Erie and virtually whisked across the border.  Arriving late in NY, we were met by Ralph’s friends in his lower manhattan apartment.  Mike and Robin, with the help of a network of friends, had set up a search committee and had listed Ralph missing with the pertinent government authorities.

Stephan, meanwhile, rented a car in Dallas and started the drive to Knoxville, where he was met by his good friend, Ted, and girlfriend, Christine, who left DC to meet him halfway.

DAY THREE, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2001

  

We received calls from relatives and friends in Germany, Canada, the US, and even from Tokyo alerting us to a website, listing Ralph as “Found and Ok,” but it either was a cruel joke or an error.  After racing across the street to the Emergency Center, we waited until dawn for the confirmation of the report.  Ralph’s company, Cantor, had set up an emergency service at the Pierre Hotel for their employees and relatives and friends, also cautioned me not to pay too much hope on this un-authorized report.  By nightfall, we realized that it most likely was a false report.

Stephan, Ted, and Christine left Knoxville and continued the journey to DC where Andria met them.  After a short visit with Stephan’s cousin, Tina, Christine and Stephan stayed the night, packing and preparing for the final leg of the trip to New York.

DAY FOUR, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2001

  

Stephan and Christine finally arrived in New York, greeted by Robin.  They met us, and finally the family was together as our search continued. 

The New Yorkers and the American public in general must be applauded.  Their outpour of sympathy, which overwhelmed us,  and helped us to ease the pain of missing our son, Ralph and Stephan’s brother. Candleligfht vigils were held all over the city, gospel singers appaeared on busy street corners. People were handing out flowers, flags, strangers hugged you, offered any help from paying your bus fare and/or just crying with you.  When ever there was a fire engine, rescue truck or ambulance going by, people stopped and applauded these brave men and women.

Bill Clinton, Govenor Pataki, Mayor Gulliani and many other public figures stopped their cars and talked and hugged people with flyers in their hands looking for loved ones.  I saw in their eyes how they too were hurting and understood the great pain by all.  A good friend of ours was just appointed Secretary of State of New York, and he offered us any assistance we may need.

Media from around the world could be seen around the city. American flags are on most taxis, cars, busses, trucks, emergency and police vehicles.

Visiting the Cantor Emergency Hospitality Area, which was graciously provided by The Pierre Hotel and The Plaza the following week, we met with company officials and other grieving families in person.  This is when we started to understand the full gravity of the situation.

Cantor had the 3 top floors of WTC Tower One and lost 728 employees out of 854.  The survivors were either on vacation, had the day off, doctor’s appointments, late for work or on business travel.  Not one person from any floor above the 91st floor made it to safety!  Calls from cellphones, and some e-mail messages, confirmed that there was no way out.  The first plane hit the Tower and virtually cout through the four fire exits, the elevator bank, the communications system, sprinkler system and power supplies. 

Only a miracle could make Ralph’s return happened, but we have come to the painful conclusion that this may never happen.

DAY FIVE, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2001

  

We eventually met with Ralph’s ladyfriend’s parents, Ralph and Linda Luzzicone, their daugher, Debbie and son, Ralph.  Together we agreed that we had to accept the most painful conclusion; our children will not return.

Linda’s parents had made arrangements to have a service for Linda next Saturday.

We finally had enough energy and courage to visit the site as close as possible, and for Helga it was a great relief to see where our son is.  Everyone grieves differently, we had to be here and see for ourselves, touch the things Ralph loved so much.

 

 


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