Prayers for Devon woman killed in 9/11

Prayers are being said this weekend in memory of the former Torquay schoolgirl and and vicar’s daughter who was killed in the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers 20 years ago. Sarah Redheffer, nee Prothero, 35, had attended St Cuthbert Mayne school and South Devon College. She lived with her American husband at Marldon, near Paignton.

She was thought to have been on the 106th floor of the World Trade Centre’s north tower when it was hit. She was among those trapped above the impact when the plane hit floors 93-99. : Devon bus passengers ‘packed like sardines’ in 400ft long queue

Sarah’s father, the Rev David Prothero, a former St Marychurch curate and retired vicar of The Magdalen Chapel in Bath, said at the time that the family were left in a state of confusion and perplexity as they waited for news: “The reality is that she may not be coming home. I was in a shop when the news broke. I could not believe my eyes because I knew that was where Sarah would be.

“Some reports suggested that people had been jumping out of the buildings and I just prayed that somehow Sarah had survived.” His brother Rev Brian Prothero was the vicar of Goodrington at the time of the World Trade Centre tragedy in 2001. He said at the time: “We don’t know whether to cultivate hope for Sarah in this life or the next.”

Shortly afterwards her parents David and Sue Prothero attended a special service for their daughter at the Sacred Heart Church in Paignton, led by her godfather, Father John Smethurst.

Sarah Redheffer with her father, the Rev David Prothero

This weekend to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 the congregation at St Mary Magdalen Chapel, where Father David Prothero was Chaplain for nine years, will be saying prayers for David and Sue’s daughter Sarah, and for everyone who was lost in this tragedy. The current Chaplain, Rev Jacky Wise, said “Many people will be sharing the pain and the loss, standing alongside all the families who have lost loved ones. It’s appropriate that we share in their grief on this significant anniversary.

We can stand with them, thinking of all the lives – all the hopes and plans of each one – that were shattered during this horror. We can but try and reflect God’s love in this world, holding the families in our hearts, as God holds those who were taken that day, close to him”. At the time of the 9/11 tragedy, Colin Egan, Sarah’s science teacher for six years at St Cuthbert Mayne School, paid tribute on behalf of the Torquay school: “Our memories of Sarah are as a bright, cheerful young lady.

She was clearly going to make a mark on the world.” Sarah went on to study languages at London University and married American Eric Redheffer three years prior to the 9/11 atrocity. She was Conference Operations Manager for an event being held at the Windows on the World venue looking out across New York and Lower Manhattan.

She was among 16 people from the London-based company attending the Risk Waters Financial Technology Congress conference along with 53 delegates who died that day. The lives of 72 restaurant staff were also lost. When American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower at 8:46 am all means of escape were instantly cut off, trapping everyone in the restaurant complex.

The North Tower collapsed 102 minutes later. After about 9:40 a.m., no distress calls from the restaurant were made. Peter Field, the chairman and chief executive of Risk Waters Group (then owner of Risk magazine), was scheduled to be at the Waters Congress in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

But he was running a few minutes late due to a computer glitch which he had been working to resolve with his IT manager. He spent the evening before the Twin Towers collapse with Sarah: “The night before, I had been at dinner with two other colleagues from London, Michele du Berry and Sarah Prothero. The three of us had a pleasant meal in TriBeCa and got a cab back uptown, not too late since Michele and Sarah had to be up early to get to the conference the next day, well in advance of any delegates.

They were in a happy mood as I dropped them off at their hotel in midtown. It was the last time I saw them.” He paid tribute to the former Torquay girl: “Sarah ran all the conference administration with telling efficiency, managing never to appear flustered.”

Peter added: “We knew that our people had survived the impact of the plane, because someone in our office had called David Rivers on his cell phone right after the plane had crashed into the building and he sounded quite calm, saying they were all OK and waiting to be evacuated. Later either David or someone else who managed to phone from the 106th floor said it was getting smoky and they were being moved up to the 107th floor. For the next half an hour we kept telling ourselves: ‘They must have been evacuated by now.'”

What is happening where you live? Find out by adding your postcode or visit InYourArea here Peter said they believed at first that their colleagues had probably had plenty of time to get out before the towers collapsed: “Next day and the day after we still clung to the belief that they had been evacuated to New Jersey with smoke injuries and were unable to call because of the phone lines being down.

“We had heard that some 1,500 people dubbed ‘the walking wounded’ by Mayor Giuliani had been taken across the Hudson to hospitals in the neighbouring state. “But by Thursday, this idea was wearing thin; by Friday it was threadbare. By then, the hospitals had failed to receive the predicted flood of seriously injured victims, suggesting the worst.

“The lack of information in Manhattan drove some members of staff to visit all the local hospitals and temporary morgues. But the hospitals were unable to help without photographs of the missing people. “We did not have photos of most of our staff, so there were further delays and fresh heartache as the families had to be contacted again for pictures of their loved ones.

Parents, spouses and friends of some of those that Risk Waters lost started to arrive from the UK at the weekend.”

Prayers for Devon woman killed in 9/119/11 survivor William Rodriguez – the last man out of the North Tower before it collapsed

The last man out of the North Tower before it collapsed on 9/11 was William Rodriguez who should have been at the same Windows on the World conference centre as Sarah. But the World Trade Centre janitor was half an hour late for work that day in 2001 and it saved his life. He spoke to the Herald Express during a visit to Torquay in 2006 during a worldwide lecture tour which came to the Riviera Centre.

Because he was late he headed for the basement instead of the 106th floor and heard the ground shake below him: “A man came running in with both hands outstretched. I looked at him and realised his skin had peeled off from his armpits and was hanging off the ends of his hands. “I started screaming ‘What happened, what happened?’ I looked at his face and it was missing parts.”

William single-handedly rescued 15 people from the World Trade Centre and is believed to be the last person to exit the North Tower. As president of the Hispanic Victims Group, he travelled the world recounting his ordeal and offering support to other victims. “I want to make it mandatory for all workers in skyscrapers above 50 floors high to be trained in where the escape routes are and how to get out of the building in an emergency.”

He recalled horrific details from the day: “When the first explosion happened, it was so hard it shook the foundations. The walls cracked and the ceiling fell on us. At first I thought the generator had exploded.”

Want our best stories with fewer ads and alerts? Download our app on iPhone or Android Another explosion cracked the walls again.

While the rest of the world watched the drama unfold on television, those trapped in the towers thought it was an earthquake. “I suddenly thought ‘it’s a bomb’. I started pushing everybody out of the doors.

I carried the man whose skin had come off his arms over my shoulder and took him to an ambulance.” William saved two people stuck in an elevator and led a team of firefighters up the stairwell, opening fire-safety doors for hundreds of people to get out of the building. He was the only person on site who had a master key opening all the doors in the stairwells.

On the 27th floor William phoned his mum. On the 31st floor he came across a blonde woman sitting on the floor. “I got her out. We rushed outside and the police were shouting ‘Don’t look back, don’t look back’.

“I turned around and the blonde woman had been cut in half. A sheet of glass came from the top of the building and cut her like a guillotine in half. “It was the worst moment.

I saw the bodies of the people who had jumped from the building. They looked like they were melting.” William only survived the collapse of the 106 storey building by diving under a fire truck.

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