From 1990 to 1992, Payson's Donald Crowley worked on the 85th floor of the World Trade Center's second tower, along with about 70 out of 172 former colleagues from the banking securities firm of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc., who appeared to have died in the monolith's destruction.
"My first reaction ... was just one of shock and disbelief that anything like this could happen," Crowley, a veteran investment researcher, said.
Reluctant to call the family of someone who might have died, Crowley sent out a few e-mails.
"Essentially I was advised that several of the people I worked with quite closely and knew very well are ..." Crowley paused, "... missing and presumed to have perished."
Sept. 11, 2002
"My recollection is that about 67 of the 170-some-odd people who were there perished," Crowley said last week. "What was really fortunate was that they were on two different floors, the 87th and 88th floors, and the fellow who headed part of the firm, and who was on the lower floor, basically ordered everybody out and everybody on that floor except one person got out safely. They got out by the skin of their teeth, but they got out."
Unfortunately, it was the 88th floor where Crowley once worked.
"They didn't do so well," Crowley said. "For whatever reason, it was sort of a macho crew, they chose to hang in there, and they were all lost. The plane that hit the south tower hit dead center, between the 85th and 91st floors, which is where they were ..."
Crowley's former employer is still operating, he said, "but they've obviously had to hire a lot of people, because the World Trade Center was the heart of the firm."
And at the heart of that heart were those who were lost.
"There were several young people who had worked with me in San Francisco back in the 1980s and early 1990s typically mid-career, young guys on training desks," Crowley said. "There were a couple of deaths that hit hard; a couple of wonderful young men that I had worked closely with ... I wouldn't be comfortable getting into the specifics, but they typically had young families and ... it was hard."
According to a story last week in USA Today which recounts the last 16-and-a-half minutes of the World Trade Center's south tower, 67 of the company's employees died, and just 14 escaped.