Victim of September 11 attacks identified after 10 years
ERNEST James died in one of the most visible acts of murder in America's history, but for 10 years his body could not be found.
Mr James, 40, who worked on the 88th floor of the World Trade Centre's north tower as an I.T. expert, was one of 2,753 people assumed to have been killed at the site in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
"When I couldn't reach him," said his fiancée, Monique Keyes, "I pretty much, deep inside, knew."
This week, however, Mr James was discovered. He became the 1,629th victim to be identified by New York City forensics officials, who continue the full-time task of testing thousands of remains that were recovered.
A spokesman for their office said the identity of Mr James, who worked for the professional services firm Marsh & McLennan, had been confirmed through a DNA match in the last few days.
"As long as there is technology available, doctors have made a promise that they would continue to try to identify people," she said.
Charles Hirsch, the City's chief medical examiner, established a temporary morgue outside the World Trade Centre immediately after the attacks. He and two colleagues were injured and covered in dust when the north tower collapsed.
Dr Hirsch and his forensics officials were eventually passed more than 21,000 fragments of human remains that were recovered from the site, and are only now approaching the halfway point in their attempts to identify them all.
Their efforts have cost tens of millions of dollars and Dr Hirsch, 74, has had to staunchly defend his turf amid drastic cuts to public spending by the city. "It's important to people, and we're here to serve people," he has said.
A proposed $16 million (£10 million) cut in March was reversed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg following protests from Dr Hirsch and the families of dozens of victims whose remains had not yet been found.
The majority of identifications were achieved by comparing DNA found at the site with samples taken from blood relatives or personal belongings of the victims. Hundreds, however, were named through dental records. Six were identified by their tattoos.
Another 1,121 people reported missing at ground zero are yet to be confirmed by remains. It is thought that some will have left no trace.
All victims from the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, are engraved into the bronze parapets around the waterfall pools that have been built into the footprints of the twin towers, which were shown to the Daily Telegraph yesterday.
Rather than being listed alphabetically, the names are grouped according to the wishes of the victims' relatives. An invitation for requests attracted more than 1,200 responses. Many victims are listed with colleagues, others among those they fell with as they tried to escape the towers.
Dozens of signs pinned up around the pools warn construction workers at the site: "please do not photograph the names". They explain that victims' families will see them for the first time only during the memorial ceremony on next month's anniversary. "Please help us to do everything possible to ensure they are the first to view their loved ones' names," the signs say.
As the waterfalls flow vertically down each of the four sides of the pools, a simple comb system separates them into thin strips that recall the latticed steel panelling of the buildings that stood there ten years ago.
Joe Daniels, the president of the 9/11 Memorial, said yesterday: "With 52,000 gallons of water going through each pool every minute, I worried they would be too loud. But they create a beautiful whisper, a sound envelope that drowns out the noise of the city".
Asked for her memories of Mr James as the anniversary of his death approached, Miss Keyes said: "He just loved to make you laugh".