As part of of The 2,996 Project, I'm remembering Jon C. Vandevander of Ridgewood, NJ, who was 44 on September 11th, 2001.
He was a Vice President at Carr Futures, and on that morning he was at work (along with Damian Meehan) on the 92nd floor of the North Tower at the World Trade Center. At 8:46 AM, the recently-hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into floors 93-99 of the North Tower, wiping out the eight floors occupied by Marsh USA.
Although Jon's office was below the impact zone, the extensive damage caused by the airplane impact left him and over 60 other Carr employees trapped. A story from the UK Guardian describes a small part of what happened:
10:00 - North Tower, 92nd floor, Carr Futures, 28 minutes to collapse.
'MOM,' asked Jeffrey Nussbaum. 'What was that explosion?'
Twenty miles away in Oceanside, Arline Nussbaum could see on TV what her son could not from 50 yards away. She recalls their last words. 'The other tower just went down.' 'Oh my God,' her son said. 'I love you.'
Then the phone went dead.
That morning, the office of Carr Futures on the 92nd floor was unusually busy. A total of 68 men and women were on the floor. About two dozen brokers for Carr's parent company had been called to a special 8am meeting. When the building sprang back and forth like a car antenna, door frames twisted and jammed shut, trapping a number of them in a conference room. The remaining Carr employees, about 40, migrated to a large, unfinished space along the west side. Nussbaum called his mother and shared his mobile phone with Andy Friedman. In all, the Carr families have counted 31 calls from the people they lost.
Carr was two floors below the impact and everyone there had survived it; yet they could not get out. Between 10.05 and 10.25, videos show, fire spread westward across the 92nd floor's north face, bearing down on their western refuge.
At 10.18, Tom McGinnis, one of the traders summoned to the special meeting, reached his wife, Iliana. The words are stitched into her memory. 'This looks really, really bad,' he said. 'I know,' said Mrs McGinnis, who had been hoping that his meeting had broken up before the airplane hit.
'This is bad for the country; it looks like World War Three.' Something in his tone alarmed McGinnis. 'Are you OK, yes or no?' she demanded. 'We're on the 92nd floor in a room we can't get out of,' McGinnis said. 'Who's with you?" she asked. McGinnis mentioned three old friends - Joey Holland, Brendan Dolan and Elkin Yuen. 'I love you,' he said. 'Take care of Caitlin.'
McGinnis was not ready to hear a farewell. 'Don't lose your cool,' she urged. 'You guys are so tough, you're resourceful. You guys are going to get out of there.' 'You don't understand,' McGinnis said. 'There are people jumping from the floors above us.'
It was 10.25. The fire raged along the west side of the 92nd floor. People fell from windows. McGinnis again told her he loved her and their daughter, Caitlin. 'Don't hang up,' she pleaded. 'I got to get down on the floor,' McGinnis said. The phone connection faded out.
It was 10.26, two minutes before the tower crumbled. The World Trade Centre had fallen silent.
Jon was able to reach his wife on the phone after the crash, as recounted in "A Widow's Wish":
There is a peacefulness in Anne Vandevander's voice, the serenity of someone who has known happiness and accepted a fate that robbed her of some of it. Anne's husband, Jon, worked as a trader for Carr Futures Inc., on the 92d floor of 1 World Trade Center. She talked to him several times after the tower was hit, until about 10 minutes before the building collapsed.
"He said 'I love you and tell the kids I love them,' " she said. A week later, a police officer came to her door to say they had found his body. She buried him in a cemetery in Ridgewood, N.J., where they lived with their three children. "Most wives will never get that opportunity," she said of the others who are still searching for missing relatives. "I have him back in Ridgewood. My one wish that morning was to have his wedding band back, and now I'm wearing it."
Jon Vandevander, 44, loved his job and died with men he had worked with for 4 years at Carr, and for 10 years before that when their division was owned by Dean Witter.
He played soccer in college, and coached his children's soccer, baseball, softball and basketball teams. He loved taking his two oldest children golfing at the Ridgewood Country Club. "He was a great dad," she said. "I feel very fortunate."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 9, 2001.
Carr Futures lost dozens of its employees on 9/11:
Carr Futures survives its darkest hour
By Collins, Daniel
Date: Saturday, December 1 2001
When the airliners crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, the world changed for everyone, but especially Carr Futures, an FCM that had offices on the 92nd floor of the WTC's north tower. Of the 141 employees based in its New York office, 69 did not survive that day, says CEO Didier Varlet, who was in Spain when he received word of the events via cell phone. Some New York-based Carr employees were traveling, some were on the Nymex floor and some worked a later shift, but of the 69 people in the 92nd floor office that morning, nobody escaped.