“84th floor, West Office, 12 people trapped.” Those are the seven words Randy Scott scribbled on a scrap of paper on September 11, 2001, after United Airlines Flight 175 struck Two World Trade Center floors away from where Scott was working at Euro Brokers Inc.
The blood-stained note, which drifted to the street from the building’s 84th floor, has brought both pain and insight to Scott’s devastated family, who believed the 48-year-old died instantly, a decade after the Twin Towers fell.
“I spent 10 years hoping that Randy wasn’t trapped in that building,” said Scott’s wife, Denise from her home in Stamford. “And then you get this ten years later. It just changes everything.”
Denise learned of her husband’s note in August 2011 when she was contacted by Dr Barbara Butcher, chief of staff and director of Forensic Investigations at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York.
The 57-year-old said that she immediately asked Dr Butcher what they had found, knowing that the office contacted families when they found fragments of victims.
“She said, ‘No, it’s not a fragment. It’s something written’,” Denise said. “And that’s when I just fell apart.” Someone had found the note on the street amidst the chaos downtown on September 11 and handed it to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York guard, who was just about to alert authorities to the letter when Two World Trade Center came crashing down right before his eyes.
“He went to radio, and the building was gone,” Denise explained. “The building collapsed.” The scrap of paper eventually passed from the Federal Reserve to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which collaborated with the medical examiner’s office to identify the spot of blood as belonging to Scott.
“The minute I saw it I didn’t need to see the DNA test,” she said. “I saw the handwriting. It’s Randy’s handwriting.” The letter, which Jan Ramirez, chief curator of the September 11 Museum, calls ‘exceptionally rare,’ will be displayed at the museum.
Denise asked the museum to delay exhibiting the letter until she told her daughters, Alexandra, Jessica and Rebecca, of its existence.
Denise said she couldn’t find the right time to tell them until this January, after her own father died. “I was bawling, because I recognised his handwriting,” Rebecca said.
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