E-mails on missing dad are 'gift'
September 20, 2001
GRAND ISLAND Brian Emery clutches the e-mails and knows that if his father isn't found alive beneath the World Trade Center rubble, the pieces of paper tell the story of a man who was going up just as the building was about to come down.
They tell him what people loved about his father, a movie buff who ran the inaugural Walt Disney World Marathon in 1993.
And they tell him where his dad was in the last few minutes before the tower he was in collapsed beneath him.
"They're a gift," Emery said of the e-mails.
Emery, 24, an only child from New Jersey who grew up with daily sightings of the twin towers, talked Wednesday about his father, an avid runner who twice finished the New York City Marathon.
Emery's father, Edgar Emery Jr., worked in the south tower
the second one hit but first to collapse -- for more than 20 years. He is among the missing.
From his Grand Island home where he lives with his mother and stepfather, Emery said he has no reason to give up hope "until every last brick is moved."
For now, though, he reads and re-reads messages from his father's co-workers. His dad's company, Fiduciary Trust Company International, set up an Internet message board for employees affected by the tragedy.
Emery posted on the Web board, asking about his dad, who was vice president of human resources at Fiduciary.
He was overwhelmed by the response.
One woman told him that his father helped get people from two of the company's departments to safety.
Another co-worker called his father, who worked on the 90th floor, a "true blue American hero" for escorting everyone to an elevator.
Others provided more details, allowing Emery to piece together his father's last minutes in the south tower.
One woman wrote that she last saw his father on the 78th floor, using a cell phone. Emery said his father had called his stepmother to say that he was OK and that they were trying to get out.
"He had just put many of the HR folks that were in the office on the elevator on the 78th floor going down," the woman wrote.
Then they all heard an announcement that the other tower had been hit, that their tower was OK, and that they could go back to their offices.
"I cannot be 100 percent sure, but I think Ed went back into the elevators going back up to 90," the woman wrote. "We had no sense of urgency on the 78th floor, so there were many people just standing around. I got on the elevator to go down. I did not see him after that time."
Another co-worker told him she ran into Emery's father as she was walking down from the 96th floor.
He was walking up the stairs.
"He said he was going back up because it was Building One that was on fire," she said.
Others flooded Emery with comments about his father, sharing how the man had touched their lives and how he often talked about his only son.
Emery, who moved to Grand Island in 1995 after his parents divorced, said his dad loved working almost a quarter-mile up in the sky in the World Trade Center.
"He was one of the few lucky ones who had a window seat," he said.
Emery was at his job last week, at Convergys in Lake Mary, when he heard from a co-worker that a plane had struck one of the towers.
"I honestly didn't think anything of it," he said. "I thought he was joking."
Then he found out it was true. He spent some time watching television in a break room but then returned to work because he couldn't watch anymore.
That's when his mother called and told him the south tower had collapsed.
He ran back to the break room.
On television, one tower stood.
It wasn't his dad's.
Throughout the day he spoke with his stepmother in New York and waited for his father to call.
About 4:30 p.m., Emery finally got through to the voice mail of his father's cell phone.
"I asked him to please call," he said.
Emery is still expecting a call.
And he hopes to get more e-mails.
"No matter what happens, I know he's touched so many people," he said.
Stephanie Erickson can be reached at email@example.com or 352-742-5921.
By Stephanie Erickson, Sentinel Staff Writer. Copyright © 2001, Orlando Sentinel