Tragedy hits close to home for many of city’s residents

Wednesday September 12, 2001

By Carlos Cruz and Hadas Ragolsky 

Special to the Daily Planet 


When her mom woke her up yesterday morning Trish Plunkett feared for the worst. 

“You never want to wake up to your mom crying on the phone,” said the UC Berkeley lecturer. “When I heard her voice I knew something bad had happened. So I prepared myself for bad news.” 

Plunkett’s brother, Rob, works at the World Financial Center connected via a walkway to the World Trade Center’s two towers, which were destroyed Tuesday morning at about 6 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Rob was at work when two hijacked airplanes crashed and demolished the towers in what seems to be a terrorist attack. 

“My brother called my mom and she called me to relay the message,” said Plunkett. “It was early in the morning and I didn’t know what had happened so the whole thing was news to me. He called to tell us not to worry about him.” 

Their relief was short lived. The twin towers collapsed. Plunkett and her mom did not hear from her brother for another 30 minutes. Again, he was okay.  

Thousands of others, however, were not so lucky. It became clear that although the terrorist hits were against buildings in New York and Washington, D.C., the tragedy would spread to Berkeley and the Bay Area as residents here tried to find out what had happened to family and friends who lived or worked in or near the site of the terrorist attacks.  

Employees at the Berkeley office of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter located on Shattuck Avenue were in a state of shock.  

“We don’t have a branch of Morgan Stanley in New York any more, it was blown up,” said one cashier at the Berkeley office. Morgan Stanley’s home base is located at the World Trade Center and Berkeley’s management tried all morning to get in touch with employees, colleagues and customers there.  

“Our headquarters was destroyed,” said Krittibs Ray who works at the Berkeley Morgan Stanley. “It’s extremely evil. All morning long I was on the phone with people from New York. I believe a client of mine died but I don’t know for sure. I tried to call his wife, his son, his daughter but I couldn’t reach anyone.”  

Ray said that he knew of no one from the Berkeley branch that was visiting the New York office.  

“I’ve been in this building so many times,” he said referring to the World Trade Center. “I could have been there myself. It’s extremely depressing.” 

Frankie Ross, financial advisor from the Berkeley branch of Merrill Lynch, said their main office in New York was also destroyed in the attacks.  

“I have friends who work in that building,” he said. “Our chairman, our president, all those people … I’m not sure what the situation is.”  

Kristen Ziazie, a UC Berkeley junior, found out about the attack when her mother called her after her first morning class. 

“When I got home this morning I didn’t know what had happened so when my roommate told me my mom had tried calling all morning I became very scared,” she said. But she too got good news by the end of the morning. Her sister, Sarah, who works five blocks from the World Trade Center, had been spared.