Parkersburg News and Sentinel: Liza Adams remembers daughter lost in Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack

By JEFF BAUGHAN

Parkersburg News and Sentinel     

PARKERS BURG, W.Va. – For those old enough to remember where they were, what they were doing on Dec. 7, 1941, Nov. 22, 1963, April 19, 1995, and Sept. 11, 2001.

For the rest, those are the dates for Pearl Harbor, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing and the World Trade Center attack.

For Liza Adams of Parkersburg, Sept. 11 was an average day. At 8:44 a.m., sounds of the NBC’s Today Show filled a room in the background of the bright, sunny and seemingly carefree Tuesday morning in Parkersburg.

Article Photos

Liza Adams, whose daughter Mary Lou Hague died in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, sits in a dining room at her Parkersburg home where she maintains a small memorial for Hague. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)

Liza and her oldest daughter Cindy Bullock talk as they plan a day of house hunting in the area. Bullock and her husband of two months, Jason, had moved in with Liza and her husband Richard at their Meadowcrest home while they searched for a house.

Meanwhile, the routine of a New York City morning changes as a Boeing 757-200ER, American Flight 11, crashes into World Trade Center One. It is 8:45 a.m.

At the 7:59 a.m. departure from Boston’s Logan International Airport, the plane held 9,717 gallons of jet fuel.

Liza’s daughter, Mary Lou Hague, is working in World Trade Center Tower Two at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods Inc., an investment banking firm headquartered in New York City. It exclusively specializes in the financial services sector.

The firm had offices on the 85th, 88th and 89th floors of Tower Two. Mary Lou is on the 89th floor. She is in the office early that morning for a 7:30 a.m. meeting.

Liza’s phone rings at 8:53 a.m.. It is Mary Lou.

“I received a phone call from her,” Liza said Wednesday as she recalled the day. “She said ‘mother, turn on the television. We think a plane has flown into the other tower.’ She said all she could see was flames and flying papers.

“I told Mary Lou to get out of her office immediately,” Liza said. “She called me back and said, ‘I have my cell phone. I have my purse. I’m leaving now.'”

Liza said Mary Lou didn’t leave, however, as she was told they were safe and to not evacuate. The second plane was minutes away from striking Tower Two.

“A male friend called her from France around 8:55 a.m. and asked her why she was still there,” Liza said. “Mary Lou told him an announcement was made they were safe and to return to work. So she did. When he called me later, he said she sounded happy and at ease. I don’t remember what his name was; just that he was from Goldman-Sachs Investment.”

Mary Lou’s desk is not near a window, but is in the interior portion of the 89th floor, Liza said.

At 9:03 a.m., a second Boeing 767-200ER jetliner, Flight 175, crashes into the second World Trade Center. The jet is estimated to be traveling 540 mph and left Boston with 9,118 gallons of fuel in its tanks.

Liza said the main portion of the plane entered the 84th floor on impact.

“That’s five floors beneath her. Can you imagine the noise? What it felt like when the plane hit the tower?” she said.

“Oh,” she said as she shook her head as she answered her own question, “I can’t imagine what she went through.”

Both planes were enroute to Los Angeles International Airport when hijacked by terrorists.

Liza didn’t hear from Mary Lou after the second plane struck Tower Two.

“I just remember going to my bedroom about five minutes after talking to her and hitting my knees, asking God to be with her,” she said.

Liza said she hired a private investigator and obtained her cell phone records.

“I know she made 911 calls from 9:20 to 9:37 a.m. The building went down shortly after that,” she said.

The estimate was 10 seconds for World Trade Center Tower Two to come down when it collapsed at 9:50 a.m.. The same was estimated for Tower One at 10:29 a.m.. The height of World Trade Center One was 1,368 feet and World Trade Center Two was 1,362 feet.

By the time a final casualty count was totaled, 2,977 people were killed in New York City, Washington, D.C., and outside of Shanksville, Pa. In New York, 2,753 were killed.

In the finality of the attacks, victims were 2 to 85 years old. Approximately 75-80 percent of those killed were men. According to CNN.com as of August of this year, 1,640 of 2,753 of the World Trade Center victims’ remains have been positively identified, according to the medical examiner’s office. That is approximately 60 percent.

Liza received Mary Lou’s “left elbow. Three inches below and 3 inches above,” she said. “It was June 27, maybe July 27 in the summer of 2002. I just remember them coming to tell me they had identified Mary Lou.”

In a dining room at the Adams’ home a triangle-folded American flag which had flown in the skies of New York is encased in wood and glass. In a compartment in the base of the stand for the flag is the cremated remains of the elbow.

Liza said she has left instructions the cremated remains are to be buried with her. At the base of the room’s cabinetry is a section of a steel beam from the tower, cut with small crosses within and “WTC” cut into the base of the steel.

Remains found at Ground Zero were removed and taken to Fresh Kills in the New York City borough of Staten Island, a landfill which opened in 1947. There it became a sorting ground for approximately one third of the rubble from Ground Zero.

Liza said debris was loaded onto a conveyor belt and sorted by hand. Over 1,600 personal effects were retrieved from Fresh Kills. Approximately 2 million tons of debris obtained from Ground Zero were taken to the landfill for sorting.

It was estimated detectives and forensic evidence specialists worked at least 1.7 million hours at Fresh Kills Landfill to recover a final tally of 4,257 human remains. Mary Lou was one of 300 people identified from these remains.

Special refrigerated trucks were at the New York Medical Examiner’s Office.

“The workers wore hazmat suits, head to toe,” Liza said. “Hopefully as DNA identification grows in technology, those remains in those trailers will be identified. Some may never.”

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