For family members of those in the South Tower – the second one hit – calls had potential to be double-edged swords. Beverly Eckert received multiple calls that morning from her husband, Sean Rooney, a vice president with Aon Corporation. They first spoke around 8:50am, following the impact on the opposite tower. He reported that an accident had happened in the neighboring building, and assured Beverly he was safe.
Aon had over 400,000 square feet of office space in the South Tower, spread out over several floors. On the 100th, Jennifer Fahey urged colleagues to leave immediately. “You had people wanting to grab purses or not believing what they saw,” she recalled. “One gentleman was going back to get some files, and I was yelling at him, `Please, it’s not important!’” That man later called his wife from an upper-floor conference room. He died.
Up on the 105th floor, Rooney hadn’t heard Fahey’s plea, and unfortunately also chose to remain. At 9:30am – 27 minutes after the second plane crashed 20 stories below him – he called Beverly again. Her heart soared as the phone rang, an indication Sean had gotten out safely. He hadn’t.
“I knew right away that Sean was never coming home,” she told reporters.
“After long minutes of talking, he whispered ‘I love you’ over and over. Then I suddenly heard this loud explosion.” It was 9:59am, and the tower was collapsing.
“I called his name in the phone over and over,” said Beverly. “Then I just sat there huddled on the floor holding the phone to my heart.”