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“84th Floor west office 12 people trapped.”
The words were scrawled on a note by Connecticut resident Randy Scott on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was attacked. Scott perished that fateful day, but the note withstood the collapse of the towers and was passed from hand to hand for nearly ten years before it finally reached his family, according to the Stamford Advocate.
Scott’s wife, Denise, learned about what her family refers to as “The Note” in August 2011. She had previously believed her husband died instantly after Flight 175 flew into the tower near the offices of Euro Brokers, where he worked. The scrap of paper has robbed the family of any illusion Randy Scott died a quick and merciful death.
"I spent 10 years hoping that Randy wasn't trapped in that building," Denise, 57, said to the newspaper from her Stamford home, with two of her three daughters, Rebecca, 29, and Alexandra, 22, at her side. "You don't want them to suffer. They're trapped in a burning building. It's just an unspeakable horror. And then you get this10 years later. It just changes everything.”
The Note not only has the final words written by Scott, it also has a trace amount of his blood, according to the Advocate. DNA testing confirmed a match and helped the New York City Medical Examiner’s office track down his family, the paper reported.
Randy had phoned Denise before writing the note at the school where she teaches first grade, but believing that the first crash was minor, he simply left a message with the main office letting her know that he was fine, Scott recounted to the Stamford newspaper. Denise Scott said she did not know about the attacks until later that morning, when daughter Rebecca called her from Ohio.
For the next few days, the Scotts frantically checked around at hospitals, hoping the family patriarch had dodged death. Hope slowly gave way, yet they were able to believe that because Scott's office was close to the point of impact, he had not suffered, according to the Advocate.
Just over a year ago, as the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Denise Scott was contacted by Dr. Barbara Butcher, head of forensics investigations for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York, the Advocate reported. A tiny note had been determined to have been written by the hand of Randy Scott.
"She said, `It's something written.' And that's when I just fell apart," Denise Scott recalled in the interview with the Advocate.
When Scott saw the note, she knew her husband had written it.
"The minute I saw it I didn't need to see the DNA test," she said to the paper. "I saw the handwriting. It's Randy's handwriting."
Butcher informed Scott that she had retraced where the note had gone for the past decade. The note was dropped from the 84th floor. It was discovered by someone on the street, who immediately handed it to a guard at the Federal Reserve Bank just before the building collapsed.
"He [the guard] went to radio, and the building was gone. The building collapsed," Scott recalled being told.
The Federal Reserve branch held the note for safekeeping before turning it over to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which worked with the Medical Examiner’s Office to trace its origin.
“[The note] is "exceptionally rare. I don't know of anything else like it," Jan Ramirez, chief curator of the museum, said to the Advocate.
"There have been other pieces of paper that came out of the towers that day, to which we have been able to attach some powerful stories, but none have been quite as rare and unusual and inspiring and sad and touching as this particular one. It really is in a class by itself," she said Saturday.
At Butcher's request, Scott granted permission for the museum to exhibit the letter once she told her daughters about it. But the right time didn't come until last January, after her own father's death.
This past March, Scott and Rebecca took a hardhat tour of the museum and was shown where Randy’s note will be displayed, as part of an exhibit on the final moments inside the towers.
"It's so amazing to think that Randy Scott wrote it and it eventually ended up with his wife and three daughters, which is an amazing arc of a day," Ramirez said to the Advocate. "We are incredibly proud to be able to show it and I think it will be one of the most powerful artifacts in the museum."
Some families of victims have chosen not to be notified by the medical examiner's office when fragments are found.
"I can't do that," Denise Scott said to the paper. "The last notification of remains I got was in 2008. And I can't do that. I can't leave him there."