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Highlights From Interviews Since September 11

Aired October 28, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: heroic tales and heartbreaking tragedies; a tribute to lives changed forever by the World Trade Center disaster. It's next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. Earlier today there was an emotional memorial service at Ground Zero. Tonight: a look back at some of the remarkable stories people have shared with us about the World Trade Center attack and its aftermath.

We begin on September 11. Bill Heitman was working on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center Building One when the first plane hit.


BILL HEITMAN, EYEWITNESS: At the moment of impact I was knocked out of my chair and we just briefly panicked and headed towards the middle of the floor to get away from the windows. And then we headed for the stairwell and started heading down from the 81st floor in an orderly fashion. And aside from some people that were suffering from asthma -- aside from some people suffering from asthma and some injured, it was actually well-spirited going down, you know, until we started getting down into the 30s and 40s.

KING: Then what?

HEITMAN: Then the firemen started passing us and were collapsing on the stairs.

KING: The firemen were collapsing?

HEITMAN: Yes. Just from the loads they were carrying, the oxygen tanks, the hoses. It was really bad. It was tough to see these guys.

KING: Did you say to yourself, "Here we go again?"

HEITMAN: Yes, I did. But at this particular point it didn't seem like it was a bombing. And after the initial crash going down, it seemed like the worst of it was over.

KING: And you did or did not know it was a plane?

HEITMAN: We had heard when we were in the stairwell probably -- it took a total of an hour for me and the people I was with to get downstairs. We had heard when we were about halfway down that a plane had -- some kind of plane had hit, but at that point we thought it was small: a helicopter, a small craft airplane.

KING: As soon as you got out what did you do?

HEITMAN: Once I stepped outside onto the street, there was something really wrong. And that's when I think the fear of the building collapsing really became apparent. And I had only been out of the building less than a minute when tower number two came down.

KING: Back to the New York bureau and Tim Cavanaugh, who works about a quarter mile away from the World Trade Center. As we understand it, Tim, you were on the phone?

TIM CAVANAUGH, EYEWITNESS: Actually, my friend's brother was on the line with them and they got cut off immediately. And I was on a conversation with his brother and he told me that his brother had heard the first crash and he was informing his brother of what had happened. And then all of a sudden the phone got cut off from him. And that was the last he's heard of his brother since.

I brought his picture so that maybe if there's someone out there who can see him, who has seen him, or if he's in a hospital somewhere, maybe some someone can call.

KING: Can we see it?


KING: And he worked in the building?

CAVANAUGH: He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 102nd floor. He's a guy I coach football with. I've known him my whole life. He's a great man.

KING: You probably are resorting to prayer.

CAVANAUGH: Actually, I -- I walked from my office, which is a quarter mile away, and it was desolate. It was like a nuclear bomb had gone off and there were ashes like in the street, like about a foot to six inches of ashes, if you can imagine that, walking down the street. And I walked over to Our Lady of Victory Church, which is right down the street from Wall Street.

And Wall Street -- usually they have the barricades there. And there was nothing. It was gone. And you know, I picked up a piece of paper and I saw the paper and read it. And it was from the 106th floor of the World Trade Center. And I just knew that it was -- you know, you couldn't imagine it. It was like being in downtown Beirut in America.


KING: It's an image that haunts a lot of people when they think about the World Trade Center tragedy: As thousands raced to get out of the buildings, a courageous group rushed in. New York firefighter James Grillo and Kenneth Erb joined us the day after the disaster, and I asked James what it was like when he arrived on the scene.


JAMES GRILLO, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: It was terror, shear terror. Bodies were falling out of the sky. They were jumping off the 105th floor and they were landing all over the street and the sidewalk. There was fear in everybody's eyes.

KING: You also saw people jumping out of buildings, right?

GRILLO: Yes. They were jumping out from everywhere from the 70th floor above. It was horrible. I saw...

KING: And what were you doing?

GRILLO: I was trying to avoid looking up and watching it, Mr. King. It was horrible. I saw dozens of people jumping.

KING: Now, how did you get hurt, James?

GRILLO: I was -- my assignment with Ladder 24, the company I'm assigned to, we were supposed to go into building No. 2, the south tower and make our way into tower No. 1, the north tower. And we were caught in the collapse in the lobby of tower No. 2, the south tower.

KING: Boy.

Captain Erb, now, you didn't go to the scene, Captain? Is that true?

CAPTAIN KENNETH ERB, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: No, I wasn't working that day. I came on in a recall.

KING: You were off and they brought you in?

ERB: They had a recall for all police officers and fire officers as soon as the news struck. The media gave that announcement. And we all, one way or the other, got in, through hitchhiking, get in your car or whatever.

KING: You lost, what, three firefighters from the station on West 31st Street?

ERB: We did. We lost a firefighter, a lieutenant and a captain.

KING: And are you the one that has to inform the nearest relative?

ERB: I went out with another former captain last night. Normally, in this circumstance, Father Mychael Judge would be helping us out with this. But, of course, he passed away and he couldn't do it.

KING: Did you lose any friends, Jimmy Grillo?

GRILLO: I lost very many friends, quite a few friends, personal friends. And the fire department is made up, everybody is a friend in the fire department, thousands of men. We're all friends.

But, personally, I've lost quite a few, maybe a dozen personal friends. And it breaks my heart. They were great men. They very great men.


GRILLO: Men with families, men that have babies on the way, men that are husbands, new homeowners. It's tragic.

KING: And after something like this, James, do you ever think of maybe not being a firemen anymore?

GRILLO: I'll be a firemen at least for another 20 years.

KING: So no thought of leaving that...


GRILLO: No, Mr. King, I will always be a fireman here in New York City, protecting the people of New York and my friends.



SINGER: (Amazing Grace)




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, we had hoped that maybe in these kind of -- in those kind of spots we'd find somebody, you know. But as time goes by, the guys have been -- the guys go down, they crawl around into all these things, they're looking, they're trying to find -- doing the best they can, but it's just -- you know, you see the weight of the steel and the debris and the amount of heat that was down there. We don't believe we're going to find anybody anymore.


KING: On September 11, Kenneth Van Auken was working on the 102nd floor of World Trade Center One. Moments before the buildings collapsed, he left a message for his wife and kids.


(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) KENNETH VAN AUKEN, WORLD TRADE CENTER WORKER: I love you. I'm in the World Trade Center. And the building was hit by something. I don't know if I'm going to get out. But I love you very much. I hope I'll see you later. Bye.


KING: Boy, Lorie, what must it be like to hear that?

LORIE VAN AUKEN, WIFE OF WTC VICTIM: It was just horrible. It was really just horrible. I could hear the terror in his voice. And he was trying to sound like he was calm for us. But you could hear the chaos in the background and the terror in his voice.

KING: You have children, Lorie?

L. VAN AUKEN: I do. I have two children. My son is 14, Matthew. And my daughter is 12. Her name is Sarah (ph).

KING: How are they handling this?

L. VAN AUKEN: Oh, Sarah is a mess. She goes in waves with hysterical crying and back and forth. And Matthew is in some denial, I think. But, you know, he's obviously beginning to see that, you know, his dad has not contacted us yet. So we're waiting.

KING: Did you -- Lorie, did you get the message before you had turned on the television to see what was happening or after?

L. VAN AUKEN: Before. I got the message before I turned on the television, and turned on the television right away and realized it was a plane that hit the building, and of course, thought it was just an accident at first, and then saw the other plane hit the other building and realized that it was a terrorist attack.

KING: Laura, our prayers and thoughts are with you.

L. VAN AUKEN: Thank you.

KING: Karen Wiley and Michael Rosweiler are at St. Vincent's Hospital searching for their missing father, Roger -- Mark Rosweiler.

Karen, what was he -- was he in -- which tower was he in?

KAREN WILEY, FATHER LOST AT WTC: He was in Tower One and he was on the 100th floor, and we know he was there because a co-worker of his had received a voice mail from him at 8:40 asking him to go to lunch. We haven't heard anything else except we -- I've gotten a fax, my mom and my sister at home got a fax saying that -- from somebody in the Coast Guard, saying that an unidentified male, John Doe, was admitted to a burn unit, matching his full description down to his back surgery. And we're not sure if it was a false lead, or -- we're just trying to -- trying to keep the hope and just hoping that that was him, or that he's somewhere that we can find him. We've been passing out fliers.

KING: I see that. Michael, where was he admitted? Where was John Doe admitted, to a burn center where?

MICHAEL ROSWEILER, FATHER LOST AT WTC: We don't know. We heard -- the fax said that he was sent to Jefferson Hospital. And we talked to a bunch of people on the street and nobody has heard from, heard about the hospital. And then later on we got some news that he was shipped to Canada, so we're really -- we have no further information.

KING: Karen, do you know what hospital in Canada the John Doe was sent to?

WILEY: They didn't know. Our family was trying to call and they don't seem to be having any luck right now finding a John Doe anywhere.


KING: September 11 was Brian Monaghan's second day at his new job in the World Trade Center. Several of his coworkers escaped the building after the plane crash; Brian did not. His parents joined us to talk about their son and the 21-year-old's heroic final moments.


BRIAN MONAGHAN, SON MISSING AT WTC: The story that we got, Larry, was one of the girls that he was with, they were going down to the stairs. He was with them. They got -- she made it to the 78th floor with him and his partner, Maurice (ph). And when she got out the building, they were asking for volunteers, and when she turned around, he was gone. So apparently, he either went back into the building or he stayed in the building to try to help.

KING: And who, Jeanne, if anyone, gives you any information about him, if at all?

JEANNE MONAGHAN, SON MISSING AT WTC: I haven't gotten really any information. I have checked lists, I've called hospitals, but it's still -- everything is unknown.

KING: Are you going to go to Bellevue tomorrow? What's at Bellevue?

J. MONAGHAN: Bellevue has another list they put up. They seem to update the list every day, they say. So tomorrow I'll just go back downtown again.

KING: What kind of a boy is your son, Brian?

B. MONAGHAN: He's a happy fellow. He's a great kid. Everybody that knows him likes him. He's always got a smile on his face, as you can see by his pictures. I've never heard anybody say anything bad about him. He's a good kid.

KING: Jeanne, is he the kind of kid that would run back in to help?

J. MONAGHAN: Yes, he would. KING: Now, we wish you the best.

J. MONAGHAN: Thank you.

B. MONAGHAN: Thank you.

KING: Brian and Jeanne Monaghan.

And now joining us, Lenny and Leona Zeplin. Their son Mark is missing at the World Trade Center. Mark is 33 years old. He also worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. Leona, when did you last hear from Mark?

LEONA ZEPLIN, SON MISSING IN WTC: I actually spoke to Mark the day before the incident. I did not hear from him the morning of the tragedy. I found that out when I called my daughter-in-law, just casually, and she was screaming and she said a friend just told her that something went into the World Trade Center, right near Mark's office.

And I started to cry and I turned on the TV, and I just couldn't imagine such a tragedy happening. And when I saw where it hit and I knew where his office was located, immediately I just -- I just lost it.

KING: So what are you doing now? Do you do as the others have done, go around the hospitals, go on Internet? What do you do?

LENNY ZEPLIN, SON MISSING IN WTC: Well, that's part of the story. We went around yesterday to all the hospitals, we've checked all the hospitals in New Jersey, and we went to the Chelsey Pier, and then we were just about finished at 5:00 when we decided to go on the Internet. And when we went on the Internet, on, through Microsoft, we saw my son's name listed on the Internet as a survivor. And we were shocked that he was on the Internet. It said 16:42, the time. Fine condition. It gave us a case number.

And we were elated, we were not going to leave New York until -- but it didn't tell us what hospital or where he was. So we ran around, we ran around, we finally ended up at the Pierre Hotel with -- where Cantor Fitzgerald has a staging section to notify everyone. And they said that list was erroneous, that list was a fraud, there were no members. We don't have any of those our members on that list. We haven't heard of any from Cantor Fitzgerald that was on that list.

So I was really very, very down. I waited until 8:30, until they were going to broadcast the names of the hospitals associated with the victims. It never came. I ran home with my wife, we went on the Internet. My son's name was still on. There was a different time, a different case number. I wrote to the person who was in charge of that list, and he sent it back to me, a message saying he was sorry, there were errors on the list, he doesn't know where my son is. And I asked to validate the list, where he got -- I still don't know where he got my son's name from.

KING: What a tragedy. LEONA ZEPLIN: I mean it's bad enough...

KING: Your hopes were as high as possible?

LEONA ZEPLIN: Right we were elated and hysterical with -- in a positive, just feeling terrific. And then it was almost worse because then we went really down to ground zero in terms of our own emotions because we just could not believe that he would survive. We even said, gee, this is going to be the story of the century, how he did get down and we were so thrilled. We were just doing whatever we could to find him. And obviously, it was just worse for us.


SINGER: (Ave Maria)



THOMAS VON ESSEN, N.Y. FIRE COMMISSIONER: Now it looks like a construction site -- no big deal. You know, they're pulling equipment. But there are 6,000 people. That's what its' -- that's the horror of it. The buildings will be replaced, but 6,000 people.



KING: Now joining us. Incredible story. Michael Hingson has been blind since birth. Michael was on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center, the one building, the north tower. He was guided out by his guide dog Roselle and another colleague.

What happened? What do you remember happened?

MICHAEL HINGSON, BLIND SURVIVOR OF WTC: There was an incredible bang. Sort of a dull thud, but certainly very tremendous. Then the building shook very violently. I remember going, "God, don't let that building tip over." I had a lot of faith.

KING: What did you think it was?

HINGSON: I thought it was some sort of an explosion at first. My colleague David Frank looked out the window as soon as the building stopped shaking and said there's fire above us. I could hear debris falling. And he said, "There's just debris falling everywhere."

KING: So your first thought now is to get out. You're also blind. So you're working on senses as well?

HINGSON: Absolutely. But I knew where the stairwells were. David could see. He and I were the last out of the office. There were guests in the office as well. They went out first. We got them out. And then we went out.

KING: And down 78 floors?

HINGSON: Down 78 floors.

KING: What role did the dog play?

HINGSON: She guided. She did a tremendous job. I don't know whether you can see her.

KING: We see her. Beautiful dog.

HINGSON: She is a good girl.

KING: And a brave dog.

HINGSON: She is.

KING: You are walking down 78 floors. You have a friend with you and you've got your dog. Are you scared?

HINGSON: No question. I was very concerned. I didn't hear the second plane hit, but we knew that at that time something had happened. We figured that a plane had hit the building because I could smell -- we all could smell jet fuel fumes. So we knew there was something going on.

KING: How about other people on the stairway?

HINGSON: Yes, and I'm referring to them as well. There were a lot of people going down the stairs, especially when we got down into the levels around floor 40 and so on.

KING: When you're blind, do you fear they will push right by you? Knock you over?

HINGSON: No, I wasn't so concerned about that. I stayed on the right-hand side. There was plenty of room for people to pass if they wanted to do that. And some did.

KING: Was it true some people were cheering you?

HINGSON: There were people that were doing that. I was cheering other people. We all cheered the firemen and the police and those who went upstairs. We were very concerned for them. We slapped them on the backs, they were being very supportive. "Do you need help? Are you OK?" they would ask us. And we asked them, "Are you all OK? Go get them, do everything you can. Our faith is in you."

KING: Did the firemen talk to you?


KING: Saying?

HINGSON: Are you OK? Is somebody with you? Don't worry. You'll be out OK. Just don't be scared. Just keep going, you're going to do fine. KING: Did you smell any jet fuel?

HINGSON: Lots, yes. There were fumes all the way down.

KING: Then when you get to the lobby, what happens?

HINGSON: Well, we had the go through a lot of water. The sprinklers were running. There was a lot of debris on the floor. We got out of the lobby to the main World Trade Center Shopping Mall, which is also inside. From there we escorted out of the building and then we moved away.

KING: And did you learn of the second tower being hit?

HINGSON: I didn't know the second tower had been hit. I knew there was fire on both towers. We got about two blocks away, and then building two started to collapse. So we all -- there were a number of us, we ran for cover. We ran into a subway station. But by that time we were already covered with soot. We had to go through a lot of falling glass and a lot of other kind of debris. Then we got out of the subway and a couple blocks further, one collapsed.

KING: You've been in earthquakes, too, Michael?

HINGSON: Yes, I used to live in California.

KING: This much worse?

HINGSON: Much worse. It's not fun being at the epicenter.

KING: No. By the way, how long did it take to get down?

HINGSON: I would say altogether from starting in the stairs to getting outside the building, for me, probably about 50 minutes or so. I was out about 20 minutes before Two collapsed.

KING: How is life for you now with no place to work?

HINGSON: Well, I'm doing fine. I've got a computer at home that talks. I can work at home. Even coming in this evening on the cell phone I was speaking with one of our customers, Nam, who is talking about buying one of our libraries. I can conduct business on the phone. We go forward, from that standpoint. At the same time, I'm really ticked at the people that did this. They took our lives.

KING: Michael, we salute you and we salute Roselle.

HINGSON: Thank you very much. She is a good dog.

KING: God bless.

HINGSON: God bless you.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The schedule that we have is overwhelming, because on Sunday we went to two funerals -- Dave Weiss (ph), who used to work with us (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 72. And we got a guy, Chief Barker (ph), that was on Sunday, too. So we went to those two funerals. Then Monday had to work, Tuesday had to work, Wednesday we're here. Tomorrow we have another funeral to go upstate to. And then tomorrow night I have to go back to work, and Friday night I have to go back to work. That's all we do.

KING: Wednesday night, do you work what hours -- all night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. So it seems to be that all we do is work and go to funerals, and then back to work, back to funerals.


KING: New York police officers Vincent Laguer and his partner James Leahy were on patrol September 11. As they drove down 7th Avenue, they saw the first plane slam into the World Trade Center.


VICTOR LAGUER, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER: All my partner kept on telling me is "Let's go, let's go, let's go. Let's get down there as fast as we can."

KING: What were you doing initially before the second plane hit?

LAGUER: We had approached Vesey Street. I parked the car right on the sidewalk. We ran right in with two Port Authority police and one transit cop. Right in to the main lobby, through 7 World Trade Center.

It was already pandemonium. It was chaos. There was people coming up from the PATH train screaming. There was people coming out of one World Trade Center with smoke coming out behind them, screaming. And at that point, it was people trampling on each other and we were basically showing the people which way out because they were so confused on what happened.

KING: Obviously, officer, there is no training for this. You're acting a lot on gut instinct and intelligence in a mass, chaotic scene.

LAGUER: Without a doubt. This scene was definitely chaotic. People were screaming and shoving, pushing, trampling each other. At a certain point the sprinklers went off, which made it even more difficult to get people out in an orderly fashion. They were sliding all over the place.

The fire department came shortly after. And there was about four of them that I can recall. And my partner saw one of the last firefighters carrying a lot of canisters of oxygen. And he said to me, "I'm going to help this guy with these canisters. There's no way he's going to make it up in one World Trade Center with all these canisters. I'm going to grab a few off his back and I'm going to meet you right down in the lobby, Vic. That's what I'm going to do."

KING: Did you tell him not to go?

LAGUER: I told him basically: "Are you crazy? Look through the doors -- of these glass doors. You cannot even see in." He kept on insisting that he was going to be all right, it was just an accident, that the fire department -- the guys that he was with -- were saying it's no problem, these buildings are safe, let's just go up and save some lives.

KING: Then the second plane hit, right?

LAGUER: Yeah, a little while after, I was with the two transit -- two Port Authority cops and one transit cop. We flushed out about three to -- three to four people out of Two World Trade Center. We were in the lobby on Two World Trade Center, and all of a sudden it was the most tremendous sound you've ever heard in your life.

KING: You hear your partner on the radio, right?

LAGUER: He started screaming: "What was that? What is that? Vic, you on the air? Victor! What was that noise?"

And people were screaming. People in the building that I was in the lobby were diving on the floor, started praying to God. They thought that the building was collapsing. They thought that One World Trade Center had fallen onto us. To be frank, I thought the same thing. I also fell on the ground, started to cry, thinking the ceiling was going to cave in on me any time now.

KING: Do you consider yourself lucky?

LAGUER: I consider it to be a miracle for myself to be talking to you right now.

KING: What about James? You haven't heard from him at all. Is he obviously presumed gone, or do you have some hope?

LAGUER: I have hope for him. He is a very strong man. He's a very determined man, he's very courageous. He is truly a hero. He could have stood with me to help, but he chose a harder route and he went with the FD and he didn't have no fire protection. He had no mask. And yet he wanted to go and help these individuals up there.


KING: Several days after the collapse of the Twin Towers, many still clung to the hope that their missing loved ones would be found alive. David Vincent joined us from the streets of New York, looking for his daughter Melissa.


DAVID VINCENT, DAUGHTER MISSING IN WTC: What we are asking for here, our family is asking for any information that has any relevance as to where Melissa was in the building, outside the building, anybody that saw her after Tuesday at about 7:30 in the morning. We need to locate her. We don't know if she's down underneath in the underbelly of the building, maybe still in some of the voids that are there or whether we should be looking in other places.

KING: Who did Melissa work for?

VINCENT: Melissa worked for Alliance Consulting, Larry. They had a good share of the 102nd floor of the first tower on the World Trade Center.

KING: Was she married?

VINCENT: No, Melissa wasn't married. She absolutely loved New York, loved being here, loved everything about it. Everybody here has been terrific in supporting us and trying to get her picture around and getting some information relative to her, get her missing persons reports and all of that taken together, but the only thing that's important in my life right now is to stay focused on how do I find my daughter, how do I get to where she is.

KING: David, you still have hope?

VINCENT: You bet. I'm down here for the long term, Larry. I'm going to find my daughter, no matter what it takes, no matter what I have to do. There's only one thing in my life right now, and that's to bring her home.



KING: Howard Lutnick is the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, one of Wall Street's top bond brokerage firms. That firm lost over 700 employees on September 11. Among them, Howard's brother Gary.


HOWARD LUTNICK, CHAIRMAN & CEO, CANTOR FITZGERALD: He called my sister, and he said that -- he said he was stuck on -- he was trapped on 103 and he wasn't going to make it, and the smoke was coming in and things were bad. And he called her and said goodbye, that he loved her, and for her to tell me that he loved me. And...

KING: Oh my God. This was a very young staff, too, right? Cantor Fitzgerald was known as a lot of young people.

LUTNICK: A lot of young people, early 30s, and a lot of babies. More than -- I think more than 1,500 children on that staff. So a lot, a lot of kids. A lot, a lot of kids. KING: Have you explained it to your son?

LUTNICK: I told him -- my wife has a brother named Gary, too. So he always had two Uncle Garys. I told him that he only had -- he only has one Uncle Gary. The other Uncle Gary got hurt at work and he -- he can't come -- he can't come over anymore.


KING: Howard, I know how difficult this is and I appreciate you giving of your time. Your image was one of a hard-bitten, as I understand it, tough financial guy. Wall Street respected you a great deal. Is that -- are you different? Are you changed?

LUTNICK: As much as it can be.

KING: You'll never be the same.

LUTNICK: I will never be the same. I mean, every -- every person who came to work for me in New York, every one of them was in the...


... every single one was there. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) anymore. You can't find them, one of them. Every one. Every one.


KING: A lot were on conference calls when the plane hit, right? There were a lot of phone conversations. Cantor Fitzgerald was a very busy phone place, not...

LUTNICK: Yeah. A lot of people, a lot of phones, a lot of talking. And a lot of...

KING: Where are you set up now?

LUTNICK: We have -- well, we have a small office at 299 Park Avenue, and we have -- UBS Warburg helped us out, gave us some space, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in New Jersey as well. And then -- and then, you know, the balance of our staff is in our Rochelle Park, New Jersey disaster site, which was, you know, a big giant building near the AT&T complex out there.

KING: And are you working every day? Is the firm functioning?

LUTNICK: Well, the firm is open in the U.S. We've opened with two businesses, our U.S. equities business and our U.S. government securities business. You know, I -- I get up at 6:00 in the morning. I talk on the phone with -- pretty much with ladies who've lost their husbands, and they have young kids and they just want to talk, or they want to ask what's going and how we're going to help them and how am I going to take care of them like I said I would. And I do that until about 9:00 or 10:00, and then I, generally at 10:00 some funerals or wakes, and try to talk business in the interim period, go to funerals, go to wakes, talk to people all night long, and go to bed at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, generally knowing I can call, you know, some of these women at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning because they're not asleep. I'm not asleep and they're not asleep.

KING: Does your firm -- how is your firm going to deal with all of these families and the like? Can Americans help you in any way?

LUTNICK: Well, I'll tell you how we decided to deal with it. My partners and I, we talked about it and we decided that what we're going to do is we're going to give 25 percent of the profits of the company to the families of the victims to try to take care of them so they stay part of our family and that we can try to take care of them with our company, because you see they call me and they say: How come you can't pay my salary? Why can't you pay my husband's salary? Other companies pay their salary -- why can't you? But you see I lost...


... I lost everybody in the company, so I can't pay their salary.


They -- they think we're doing something wrong. I can't pay their salaries.


I don't have any money to pay their salaries.

KING: Can America help at all? Can people help, Howard?

LUTNICK: Well, I guess, you know, we're -- the victims, all the families, they're going to stay in the Cantor family and they're going to stay our partners. And so everything that we do, they're going to get 25 percent of whatever we do. So we do business with banks, we do business with broker dealers, and we...

KING: So every dollar you make they get a quarter.

LUTNICK: They get a quarter. So I mean, you know, if every money manager and pension fund just gives us a little bit of business then maybe we'll survive.

KING: Howard, I know how difficult this has been. I thank you. You have the condolences of all of the CNN family and everybody in the world.

LUTNICK: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Hang tough, Howard.

LUTNICK: Thanks.

KING: God bless. You'll be saying kaddish a long time.

LUTNICK: Forever, I think.




KING: And now a story of love and loss. Joining us from New York is Ann De Sollar. Her boyfriend was the late Gary Lutnick. She was the former CEO of the duchess of York's nonprofit foundation Chances for Children.

How did you and Gary meet?

ANN DE SOLLAR, BOYFRIEND DIED AT WTC: It was interesting, Larry. I had been asked to go to New York by the duchess of York, to be the CEO of her nonprofit organization, Chances for Children, as you had mentioned, and had met the directors of Chances for Children. And Gary's sister-in-law was the director.

Before I had accepted the position, I was still living in Boston, and she passed my number along to Gary. He called me in Boston and wanted to fly up for a blind date and I said, "absolutely not." I was actually mourning the death of someone who had asked me to marry them six months prior.

KING: How did it develop with Gary?

DE SOLLAR: Well, he was real persistent. He finally called back and said, you know, I have business in Boston on Friday, and I'd love to fly up on Thursday so we could have dinner beforehand. And it was, I think, fate, because there was a horrible snowstorm and Gary got snowed in for three days. So we had a long first date, and it got very serious very quickly.

KING: But you did not get engaged. Why?

DE SOLLAR: We did not get engaged, because I was having a lot of trouble, living in the past. Living in the past.

KING: Over your lost boyfriend.


KING: So you go to Hawaii, right?


KING: To attend a Tony Robbins seminar on Thursday -- this is before the tragedy of Tuesday.

DE SOLLAR: Correct.

KING: And you talked to Tony and he advises to you to what?

DE SOLLAR: Well, I got there and I was having hesitation about being there, because I had just broken up with Gary. And Tony said something to the whole audience -- it wasn't just to me. But he said, "you cannot dance in the present if you're carrying around a ball and chain from the past."

And it clicked. And so I got on the phone right then and there, and I called Gary, and I realized it was 4:00 in the morning New York time, so I left a message at his office saying, "I understand, I've been living in the past. I haven't been living in the present. I'm ready to commit to you, I'm ready to get married. I'm ready to have those three little boys we talked about."

KING: So you brought him the happiest news of his life, and you leave it on his machine, right?

DE SOLLAR: At the office. I left it on his voice mail at the office.

KING: You didn't want to wake him up at home.

DE SOLLAR: I knew he wouldn't make any sense of it.

KING: He gets into office in the morning. You're sleeping in Hawaii. right?

DE SOLLAR: Correct.

KING: OK, how do you know there's a message on your machine?

DE SOLLAR: Oh, on my machine?

KING: Yeah. You got a message from him, right?

DE SOLLAR: Well, then Tuesday morning I got a message on my voice mail -- he had called at 8:56 in the morning, which was 2:56 in the morning Hawaii time, and I couldn't find my phone. It was in the dark. And then he went into voice mail and left me a message from the Trade Center.


GARY LUTNICK, VICTIM OF WTC: Hey, baby. It's me. I'm in the World Trade Center and -- a plane hit this building and I'm on the 104th floor and it's filling up with smoke. I love you very much, and I'm sorry that we had to go through what it is that we went through. Oh, my God. My life is probably going to end very, very shortly. I love you, baby. Bye-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Hold the vents. Is there any vents in here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Close the door.

LUTNICK: Bye, baby. Bye.


KING: He said, "my life is going to end very, very shortly," and then that pause, and, "goodbye." How on earth did you handle that?

DE SOLLAR: Well, I have to first say, Larry, that I couldn't listen to that right now. So that was the only way I could -- can keep my composure right now.

The thing that really struck me about Gary's message, as so many other people who left messages to those who they loved, is the fact that in Gary's last moment of his life, he had the composure to make the choice to call those who he loved. And we need to take that example and tell people how much we care about them every day, as Gary did. And use those messages that were left to people as an example that we've got to reach out and tell people how much we care about them.

And, Larry, I think that if -- if people crumble, like those buildings did, then the terrorism has won. And what we've got to do is focus on the positive attributes of people like Gary and the other victims, incorporate that in ourselves and move forward. And one of Gary's positive attributes was that he told people how much he cared about them all the time.




KING: Let's meet four of New York's finest in the field of fire. Lee Ielpi, retired firefighter, 28 years on the job. His son, Jonathan, is missing at the World Trade Center. Retired chief Jay Jonas, 22 years, was a captain at the time of the disaster, received a battlefield promotion afterwards. He and some of his men were trapped in the stairwell.

Firefighter Bill Butler, seven years in department, one of the men trapped as well, along with Jay. And Jim O'Donnell, firefighter 20 years in the department. His firehouse lost 11 men at the WTC. What was your son, Jonathan, doing, Lee?

LEE IELPI, RETIRED FIREFIGHTER: He works with squad company 288. He came in to work the day tour. As it turns out, he rode early because that's the makeup of the fire department. When they heard what they were going through, he hopped on a little early and he rode, and he rode with seven guys. And all seven are missing.

KING: Have you given up hope?

IELPI: I've done this a long time, and the spirit is always there. But in reality, 20 some odd days is a -- is beyond the scope of...

KING: How old is Jonathan?

IELPI: Jonathan is 29.

KING: Like dad, he wants to be a fireman. IELPI: Yeah, it's been in the family. I have a son who's on the job also, probationary.

KING: Jay, you were trapped in a stairwell?


KING: When did it collapse?

JONAS: The -- we were in a stairway in the North Tower, which was the first tower that got hit, which is the second tower that collapsed.

KING: Were you real close by when it happened? You got there that quick?

JONAS: Yeah, my firehouse -- my old firehouse is in Chinatown, roughly 20 blocks away. We're on Canal Street.

KING: Did you think you'd bought it?


KING: What saved you?

JONAS: We don't know. We don't know. The -- I'm sure group of engineers could probably write their thesis on what saved us: possibly the mechanical equipment, for the heating ventilation equipment was right next to the stairway. So it may have provided additional bulk for the -- to ward off the collapsing beams.

KING: You were there at the same time, Bill?


KING: What were you thinking?

BUTLER: Oh, I guess we were all just waiting to die when it began. And...

KING: Do you think it's kind of a miracle that you're here?

BUTLER: Oh, most definitely. Most definitely. Some of our brothers that were in the same stairwell with us that are now missing, we passed them, you know, we passed them or they passed us in the stairwell.

KING: And Jim, your firehouse, ladder company 35, lost 11 men?

JIM O'DONNELL, HIS FIREHOUSE LOST 11 MEMBERS: That's correct, Larry, 11 men missing.

KING: Were you there at the scene?

O'DONNELL: No. No. But when I saw it on TV, I got right downtown. And like every other fireman in the city, got down there just to try and do the best we could.

KING: How is the New York Fire Department going to recover from this?

O'DONNELL: Larry, it's steeped in tradition. We're a big family, and now a bigger, tighter family. And somehow, some way, we'll get through. And we get inspiration from the families who are helping us. And somehow we will get through.

KING: Yes, we're showing you scenes of your firehouse.

Lee, did you ever question when you hear things like this, your own son, why am I fireman? Why was I a fireman?

IELPI: No, no. I think that all of us in the fire department have an inner feeling to help people. And I think one of the best ways to help people is a fireman. I mean, it's the next closest thing you can get to combat.

And going to a fire and trying to help somebody is probably the most rewarding thing you can do. And my son, my -- both sons, all they grew up with was me being in fire department. My son is a volunteer in town. And, no, honestly no.

KING: Ever regret it, Jay?

JONAS: Never.

KING: Never?

JONAS: I go to work and I'm surrounded by the best people on earth. The acts of courage that -- and the heroism that I saw on September 11 were staggering. Saw members of -- we passed members of ladder company 5. We were carrying our own civilian down. And they were walking down a man with chest pains.

And I spoke to the officer, who was a friend of mine. I says, "It's time to go, the other building collapsed, let's go." "That's OK, we're working on this guy." So their last act was saving another human being.

KING: And when you go down there, have you all been down since? And you're the youngest one, right, Bill, point of service?


KING: Do you ever question why you became a fireman?

BUTLER: No, not at all. It's -- we all worked hard to become firefighters in the, you know, greatest fire department in the world in the greatest city in the world and the greatest country in this world.

KING: What do you make, Jim, of all these people coming from all over the country to help? Firefighters from L.A. and Nebraska and Michigan? JONAS: Well, Larry...

KING: Is it a national fraternity, you guys?

JONAS: National fraternity, come, want to help. And also the -- the American people, the outpouring of love, reminds me of Tom Browkaw's greatest generation. Well, I think we might be seeing the next greatest generation of this whole country pulling together. From little children to, you know last week, we had a 90-year-old woman come into our firehouse and want to volunteer with a cane. And it's very inspiring. And does help us.

KING: Your son didn't have to go, did he?

ELBI: No. No. And a lot of sons didn't have to go. When a house, when they say a house lost 11, my son's house lost 19. Squad 1 lost another 11. Those guys hopped on the rig. They rode early. They rode of because of what they heard on the radio.

They didn't have to go, but they knew like everybody else that heard it throughout the city, that there were going to be a lot of people needing help. And those guys hopped on.

KING: There's really nothing a grateful city or country can do. Maybe there's a lot of things they could do. They give money to families and everything, but to say thank you. And you feel that, don't you? You feel the love of the city?

BUTLER: Very much so.

KING: People back for you?

JONAS: I stopped at the firehouse today, I got promoted. And there's all kinds of pictures out front and drawings that people hung up on the firehouse and candles. And the Chinatown community, there's a language barrier between us and them. Every person, to a man and woman stopped by at the firehouse. And they started praying in front of the firehouse.

KING: Thank you guys. We salute you all.


KING: What a special group. We leave you with more scenes from today's Ground Zero memorial service.

Thank you for watching. We'll be back live again tomorrow night. Good night.




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