by Donna Carlson, staff writer“
Luis, something just hit our building and the room is filled with smoke, but don’t worry, honey. I’m leaving. I’m coming home right now” were the last words OOIDA member Luis Espinoza heard his wife Fanny speak on Sept. 11.
In the weeks following the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, we watched the recovery efforts on our televisions. We saw and heard victims’ inconsolable families who refused to give up hope and walked the ash-covered streets hoping to find out what happened to their loved ones. Luis Espinoza was one of those sufferers who haunted the docks near ground zero each day looking for clues to his wife’s whereabouts and showing a picture of her to any person who would look and listen. Now he’s dedicated himself to repairing his family’s shattered dreams. Frantic with worry after Fanny’s telephone call and seeing news reports, Luis went to the bus stop where Fanny usually got off and waited; he kept his cell phone on and spent his time between home and the bus stop until midnight. Luis wanted to drive to the Trade Center, but authorities had shut down all traffic into the city except by water. He was trapped in New Jersey with no way to get to where his wife worked. Luis now spends each day wondering how in the world he’ll salvage his family’s plans for the future. “We had our whole lives planned out,” Luis explained. “First, Fanny went to college and got a good job while I drove as a company driver. As we planned, we had two children and saved for me to buy a truck. I was going to lease on somewhere while we saved to get a trailer, then get my own authority. Then Fanny was going to get her law degree.” The couple had just purchased a truck when the tragedy happened. Fanny had all the authority paperwork with her the day the WTC was attacked. A lawyer friend at work was going to look at the paperwork and help the Espinozas complete the forms. “It’s all gone now,” Luis told Land Line in early October. “I can’t work, I can’t drive until I know. I go down there (to pier 94) every day. My wife is still listed only as missing.” Luis has completed the paperwork at the NYPD Crisis/Missing Persons/Support Center and has given them DNA samples. He says newspapers, including The London Times, have come to his house to ask him for a story, but he’s not comfortable with reporters. The unthinkable catastrophe inflicted by terrorists has left him with two bewildered children, Christian, age 9, and Stephanie, age 11. Luis says strangers in his home upset his children who “don’t quite comprehend that their mother may not come home.” When Land Line talked to Luis on Oct. 1, he said he had not given up the hope of finding Fanny alive. Luis’ wife was employed as a financial compliance officer with an international company called Cantor Fitzgerald. Cantor Fitzgerald had offices in both towers and suffered catastrophic losses. Fanny worked on the 104th floor of Tower One.
What does the future hold for the Espinozas? Luis says now he must find a job hauling locally. “I can’t go over the road now,” he says. “The kids are in school. Maybe someday I’ll get my authority, start that little trucking business, and buy that little house we dreamed of for the kids. Fanny would like that.”