A Nation Mourns

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Passenger from Payson stranded in Missouri

by Mike Burkett

roundup staff reporter

Jackie Larson lives in Payson with her mother, Barbara Bubnis, the owner of Barbara's Boutique.

She is a 44-year-old "special needs adult" who has been determined to function at the level of a 10- or 12-year-old. But she is "very, very outgoing and very active," Barbara said of Jackie, who has participated not only in Payson's Special Olympics team, but the Equestrian Special Olympics team as well.

Jackie also travels cross-country quite a bit normally alone, always on a direct flight, and always uses the airlines' 'meet and assist' policy.

"In other words," Barbara said, "I'm always there to put her on the airplane, and at the other end there's always someone there to take her off. Other than that, the airline has no responsibility."

Early Tuesday morning, Jackie was at Newark International Airport, wrapping up a month-long visit with her stepfather and boarding a 7:10 a.m. Continental Airlines flight that would land in Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport at 9:26 a.m., according to the schedule.

At the same airport, at approximately the same time, United Airlines Flight 93 was boarding passengers for a flight to San Francisco. It would become the fourth commercial jetliner of the day to be hijacked and the one which would crash in a wooded area near Shanksville, Penn., killing everyone aboard: 38 passengers, five flight attendants and two pilots.

It was about two hours into Jackie's five-hour trip when the Federal Aviation Administration commanded that all commercial flights in progress immediately land at the nearest airport, wherever that may be.

"I was heading down to the Valley to pick her up," Barbara said. "I was halfway down the Beeline when I heard the FAA's announcement on the radio. I went into a panic. How was I going to get my daughter? What would she be doing somewhere in this country, all by herself? And with all of these planes hijacked and missing, I was just frantic. I don't know how I drove my car all the way to my son's house in Scottsdale."

But she did. And once there, Barbara immediately began dialing the telephone number for Continental Airlines where a representative at first told her that Jackie had been routed to Tampa, Fla., and would be rerouted to Phoenix by 11 that morning.

"That, of course wasn't true, but nobody knew anything at that time," Barbara said.

The worried mother then phoned her daughter's stepfather and found that he'd been told that Jackie was in Kansas City, Mo. After another call to Continental, Barbara received confirmation: "Sure enough, Jackie was in Kansas City," she said.

Based on the next several conversations she had with Continental employees, Barbara was able to piece together the details of her daughter's adventure.

"They told me Jackie became hysterical on the plane, because she didn't realize what was going on when they were forced to land in Kansas City," Barbara said. "I think she thought something was wrong with the plane."

Realizing that Jackie was a special-needs passenger, a chief flight attendant named Marilyn became, as Barbara calls her, "the flight attendant sent by God."

"Marilyn all I know about her is her first name took my daughter right to the Kansas City Hilton Hotel, checked the both of them into adjoining rooms, and told Jackie, 'Anything you need, let me know, I'll be right in the next room.'

"At dinnertime, Marilyn took Jackie down to the restaurant, where she had dinner with the captain and the whole crew. Her favorite thing in life is wrestling, and the captain loved it, too so they had this big, long conversation about the World Wrestling Federation!"

That evening, Barbara finally got to talk with Jackie on the phone about four or five separate times.

"She was just fine," Barbara reports. "I asked her if she knew what was going on in New York, and she said yes, she understood what had happened with the World Trade Center which she's very familiar with, because we used to live in Bayonne, New Jersey, right across the river from Manhattan. She used to see those buildings every day.

"She did tell me that she was really scared, though. 'I said, 'Don't be scared, your sister is on her way.'"

Thirteen hours after discovering Jackie's whereabouts, Barbara's other daughter, Maggie, completed the drive from Houston, Texas to Kansas City and Jackie was back in the arms of a loved one.

"Maggie is taking Jackie back to Texas until I can get an opportunity to get on a plane, fly to Houston and get her because I think she might be a little reluctant to fly by herself for a while," Barbara said.

Until she is reunited with her daughter, Barbara is planning on composing lots of appreciative letters to what is now her favorite airline.

"If they had just followed their rules with that 'meet-and-assist' thing, they would have just left her at the gate," she said. "But the people at Continental took care of Jackie like she was one of their own.

"They did not have to take her under their wing."

Investment researcher worked in Tower 2

As Americans watched video replays of the events of Tuesday morning, they were filled with horror even if they'd never been in the building or knew any of its occupants.

Donald Crowley had been in the World Trade Center's second tower. He worked in it. He knew people inside.

The Payson resident and veteran investment researcher once occupied an office on the tower's 85th floor, along with approximately 70 out of 172 former colleagues who now appear to have died as news cameras captured the monolith's destruction.

And as Crowley watched from 2,500 miles away.

"My first reaction, for most of the day, was just one of shock and disbelief that anything like this could happen," Crowley said Wednesday. "It's one of those things where, you see something appear before your eyes, and you just consider it to be inconceivable.

"Today, I'm just starting to absorb what has happened, it's more set in, and I really find my emotions rising to the surface.

"I was very fearful about trying to make contact with my former associates, because so much was unknown that you just sort of hope and pray for the best outcome.

"... I also didn't want to call somebody who had lost someone ... so I e-mailed a few people, and have gotten a few responses. That made me a little more able to contact them directly."

Those calls, he said, confirmed what he already knew.

"Essentially I was advised that several of the people I worked with quite closely and knew very well are ..."

Crowley paused. He clearly didn't want to finish the sentence. But he did.

"... missing and presumed to have perished."

The tower

In the late 1980s, Crowley was running the West Coast office of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc., specialists in banking securities, which deals primarily with the largest institutional investors across the country.

"They needed someone to run research back in New York, so from about 1990 to 1992, I spent every other week or so in this very nice corner office on the 85th floor of building two of the World Trade Center."

As the company grew, it came to occupy 97,600 square feet on the 85th, 88th and 89th floors, according to a tenant list compiled by CNN.

It was during the year after Crowley left that the double towers survived a massive car-bomb explosion detonated by terrorists in the financial center's underground garage.

"I certainly commiserated with a lot of friends at that time," Crowley said. "They all got out in good shape ... I think they were told at that time to stay on the floors where they were until rescuers arrived to lead them down ... It sounded like it was a fairly orderly escape."

For many, for thousands, there was no escape Tuesday morning.

"To me, that is still inconceivable," Crowley said, "because when you're in that building ... it has the appearance of tremendous strength. It was designed in 1966, and they deliberately over-engineered it to give it that maximum strength. It's the cement combined with the tensile strength of the steel that gave it its architectural support."

Tomorrow

As Crowley concedes, all anyone can do about nearly every aspect of this tragedy is to speculate.

He is asked for one final speculation.

"Should it be a memorial? Should it be rebuilt? My guess is that they won't do the same thing with the building," Crowley answered. "I think what many firms will be asking themselves is, 'Do we want to be in a landmark building, geographically in an environment where we might be a target?' ... My guess is that firms will now want to distribute themselves a bit more carefully, and avoid a high profile."

If it were up to him, Crowley said Americans would not see a rebuilt World Trade Center.

"I think the best thing would be to build not to put up clones of what was knocked down, but to rebuild it into another functional part of our financial system again," he said.

"It will be a memorial, almost regardless of what they put on that land."

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