CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Liza Adams carries a reminder with her, especially today.
“I want everybody to remember. It was my daughter, my child, so it’s so important to me,” she said this morning, September 11, 2019.
Her youngest daughter, Mary Lou Hague, was one of the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Hague was 26 years old and a researcher at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods in the south tower.
She is one of several people with ties to West Virginia who died that day.
Chris Gray was a West Virginia University quarterback from 1987 to 1991. He’d gone to work for the financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st through 105th floors of One World Trade Center in Manhattan. At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11, crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The North Tower burned for 102 minutes before collapsing at 10:28 a.m. because of structural failure. Now the the “Chris Gray Memorial Scholarship” at WVU honors his memory.
Paul Ambrose, a Huntington native who was a fellow at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. He is the namesake of the Paul Ambrose Healthcare for All Leadership Institute, affiliated with the American Medical Student Association. His name also lives on with the Paul Ambrose Outstanding Student Activist Award, with the same organization. Closer to home, Ambrose is the namesake of Huntington’s Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, a bicycle and pedestrian trail system meant to improve the wellness of that city’s residents.
The “James K. Samuel Memorial Scholarship” benefits West Virginia University students in memory of Jim Samuel, a 1993 WVU graduate and native of Jamesburg, NJ, who was working in Tower One. Samuel was an assistant commodities broker who worked on the 92nd floor at Carr Futures for five years. The scholarship benefits West Virginia University students who have similar interests to Samuel’s.
The Shelley Marshall Foundation is named for Shelley Marshall, the wife of Morgantown native Donn Marshall. Shelley was killed at the Pentagon, where she was a budget analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency. The foundation supports a variety of causes, especially children and senior citizens in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Mary Lou Hague has scholarships in her honor to benefit students at the University of North Carolina and at Parkersburg High School, her college and high school alma maters.
She was fulfilling a dream of living in New York, her mother said.
“She was determined to go to the Big Apple. She was there and got a job as a research analyst. 89th floor of the South Tower,” Adams said in an interview for MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
“That was the place to be and the thing to do. She was in seventh heaven. She loved New York.”
The morning of the attack, she had to be at work for an early morning meeting. About 8:45 a.m.,she called her mother.
“Mom, mom. Turn on the television,” Adams recalled her saying over the phone. “They think a plane hit the other tower.”
Adams remembers saying, “Get your cell phone and leave immediately.”
Adams thought she did that, but couldn’t get ahold of her daughter again that morning. A friend who worked at Goldman Sachs later recounted calling Hague and saying, “Aren’t you going to leave?”
“We tried,” Hague had replied, “but they told us to come back. They said we’d be safe here.””
According to the story that was told, Port Authority officials were relying on lessons learned from the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which was an attempted bombing at ground level. The authorities believed people would be safer going back to the office and made announcements to stay in place.
“They didn’t think their tower would be hit. So it was a total shock,” Adams said.
The south tower was hit by the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 at 9:03 a.m. The direct impact was to floors 75 to 85.
Hague was on floor 89.
“Because the plane came in under her floor, they were trapped. It must have been just horrific,” Adams said.
Adams says Hague made 10 calls to 911 after that. Adams knows that because the calls were reflected on a telephone bill she later received.
“She didn’t get through but she tried. I know she was alive until 20 minutes of 10. That’s when she didn’t try any more,” Adams said.
At 9:59 a.m., under intense heat, the south tower collapsed.
Sixty-seven employees of Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, including Hague, were killed.
But on today’s anniversary, people remember many more victims of the attacks that day.
“Three thousand innocent people never came home that night,” Adams said.