9/11 TWENTY YEARS ON: ‘Dad said goodbye from floor 103 as tower crumbled’
The son of a British 9/11 victim has spoken of his longing for his father’s advice, after welcoming his own baby boy into the world 20 years after the terror attacks.
The life of Jonathan Egan, then an 18-year-old student, “changed forever” when he lost his father Michael Egan, 51, and aunt Christine Egan, 55, in the atrocity.
Both were from Hull in England, and Christine was visiting her brother, a vice-president at insurance giant Aon, for the first time at his office in the World Trade Centre’s south tower when it was hit by United Airlines Flight 175.
Michael (inset), an office fire warden, died helping his colleagues evacuate.
Christine, a trained nurse, may have been helping people in the building’s lobby.
Now a parent to 11-week-old Dean Michael – named after his grandfather – Jonathan (now aged 38 and living in New York) said he wished he could get some fatherly advice.
He recalled being woken up by staff at the his Los Angeles student dorm 20 years ago.
“I saw the replay of the towers getting hit and going down and I knew that my life and the world was changed forever,” he said.
Jonathan reached his mother Anna on the phone, who “told me that my father was gone”.
“I said: ‘Well how do you know he’s gone?’ And she said: ‘I was on the phone with him, he said goodbye. He was 103 floors up, they couldn’t get to the roof, the doors were closed... I was on the phone with him when the building went down’.
“Obviously finding out that moment that my father was dead, and just died in a terrible and tragic manner, was tough, very tough.
“He got to say goodbye to my mother which was a blessing that a lot of people that perished that day weren’t fortunate enough to do.”
As the closest DNA match to his father and aunt, he took four flights to reach his family and aid identification efforts at ground zero.
“I was down there in the muck of it all, certainly sights and a memory I’ll never forget,” he said.
He remembered DNA testing being performed in refrigerated trailers where bags of body parts were being kept.
“I’m doing the testing and going through swabs, blood tests and whatnot and there’s bags on bags stacked around of what could have been my father or my aunt or somebody else’s father or aunt,” he said.
“It was a surreal and daunting experience... I had to grow up very quickly to be able to not just handle [that] but carry on the way I knew I needed to.”
Today, he has a tattoo with his father’s initials, an unofficial family coat of arms and the word “imagine”, a reference to Michael’s love of John Lennon and The Beatles.
“There’s a lot of questions along the way, dating girls, getting married – and the birth of my son is certainly the one that has made me think about and miss my father the most,” he said.
“I really started thinking... I really, really could use a chat with dad right now.”
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