'I love you,' trapped man told wife
Their little daughter doesn't understand why her daddy can't use his key to leave WTC rubble
By LISA PRIEST, The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, September 19, 2001
NEW YORK -- Pushing frantically on the locked stairwell doors of the World Trade Center, Frank Joseph Doyle made a call to his wife, telling her that he and others were trapped and she should dial 911.
The trader had made it down two floors from his 89th-floor office after two hijacked airplanes plowed into the twin towers. Now smoke was pouring in, and people were jumping to their deaths.
"He said, 'I love you; I love ZoŽ; I love Garrett, and I want you to tell them that every day of their lives," Kimmy Chedel, a native of St. Marguerite Station, a town north of Montreal, said yesterday.
The 37-year-old has been doing that: Each day, for the past week, she holds her 16-month-old son and a daughter, just shy of three years, and tells them that their father loves them dearly.
The eldest, ZoŽ, can't understand why her father can't get out from under the rubble if he has a key to the World Trade Center in his pocket. And when she passed by the George Washington Bridge to Manhattan, she waved hello to the skyline, just in case.
"I feel he is still alive, but I don't know if we're going to find him in time," said Ms. Chedel, who carried a photograph of her dripping-wet husband, wrapped in a baby-blue towel, with his daughter. "I just want to find him and take him out of here and back to Canada. We hate New York."
Finding the 39-year-old is proving an agonizing task. The hearts of Mr. Doyle's family and friends are heavy with fear.
The only consolation, if there is any, is that they are living the same dazed, tearful existence as the families of more than 5,800 other missing people believed to be under the debris, its plumes of smoke tinged with a sickly, sweet smell.
Since Ms. Chedel watched the attack and collapse of the twin towers on television last Tuesday, family members have made the long journey to her New Jersey home.
Thirty family members and friends are with her, many convinced there is still time, there can still be hope, that Mr. Doyle -- a fit man who played hockey and participated in triathlons -- is still alive.
"He's a real fighter and he's in the best shape of his life," Christian Chedel said of his brother-in-law. "If anybody is able to survive, it's Frank."
Mr. Chedel, 25, drove from Mont Tremblanc, Que., to Englewood, N.J., in seven hours, after watching the TV coverage of the collapsing towers. Since then, he has helped his sister fill out forms, answer questions and gather items to assist in the collection of DNA.
The earnest efforts of those collecting information can cause pain to a family that very much believes there is reason to hope.
"They're telling us to fill out forms for death benefits, and he's not dead," said Ms. Chedel, who believes her husband may have found an air pocket. "I told the woman, 'I don't think my husband would like it if I was filling out these forms right now.' "
In the weeks before the disaster, she and her husband, head of the equity trading desk at Keege Bruyette and Woods, were training for a duathlon, a bicycle and run.
Mr. Doyle called his wife on her cellphone for the first time at 7:30 a.m. from the 89th floor of Tower 2 of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
"He just wanted to know if I was going to go and train. It was a pretty normal conversation," she said. About 90 minutes later, the first jetliner had struck Tower 1 and "my heart fell out. . . . We talked again and he said it was pretty scary. Employees were looking out the window and people were jumping to their deaths."
Ms. Chedel told her husband that he had to get out of Tower 2, which hadn't yet been hit, any way he could. She heard a muffled sound, like someone talking in the background, and her husband told her it was the speaker system.
"He told me the speaker said to not go down. Back in 1993, being in the building was the safest place," she said, referring to the terrorist bombing of the tower.
But then the unthinkable happened again: Tower 2 was struck, and at 9:22 a.m., Mr. Doyle called her again, to tell her he loved her and their children.
"He said he went up to the roof and the doors [to outside] were locked, so he went down to Floor 87 and the doors were locked," she said.
Trapped, he told her to call 911, which she did, telling the operator that "all these people are trapped."
Since then, she has been on a long journey, trying desperately to find her husband or any information that suggests he may be alive. She wants to take him to the second home he loved -- the Laurentians, the place they visited every month.
"He is rock solid, a great father, an honest guy and a best friend to so many," she said.
"It is such a privilege to be married to him and to have his children."