As the United States commemorates the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that left nearly 3000 people dead, we remember Karen Juday, the 9/11 victim who jumped off the burning building.
As the planes struck the north and south wing of New York’s World Trade Centre, many victims who couldn’t find any other escape route jumped out of the buildings.
One of the victims caught on camera was Karen, a 52-year-old administrative assistant at the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage firm.
How was 9/11 jumper Karen Juday’s picture discovered?
A photographer named Richard Drew accidentally caught the images of the 9/11 jumpers.
Richard arrived at the location after receiving a tip from a CNN cameraman. By then, a plane had already struck the north wing. Sixteen minutes later, a second one would strike the opposite wing.
The photographer captured some of the most spine-chilling images in history. However, the two pictures that have made many sick to their stomachs were that of the ‘Falling Man’ and ‘Falling Woman.’ The latter was Karen.
After receiving rebuke for capturing the images of the victims moments before their painful death, the AP photographer stashed them away. They remained so until he was contacted by a man by the name of Richard Pecorella, who was trying to find his missing fiance, Karen.
Pecorella knew what his fiance was wearing on the fateful day. As he sat down with the photographer going through his stash of images, he found her.
In a 2006 interview with NBC News, Pecorella said: “She was wearing a blue bandana as she did at work to hold her hair back, and it was her shape. She had on a blue sweater and cream-coloured pants that day.”
Where is the victim’s fiance now?
“Her eyes sparkled to me. It was magical,” he said remembering her.
“One day they were blue, the next they were green. Karen, I will always be in love with you and I will see you again. I will do enough good to make it up to you,” Pecorella said.
The couple had become inseparable after a chance meeting at a car racetrack in Pennsylvania. They were both going through a painful separation from their respective spouses at the time. They had planned a Las Vegas wedding for June 2002.
Story behind Sept. 11 attack’s images explored
The AP photographer, Richard, had a gig shooting a maternity fashion show for New York Fashion Week that day. However, little did he know what laid ahead on the day.
Once Richard’s images went live, critics labelled them as being “exploitative” in nature.
In a recent interview with CBS This Morning, Richard said, “I didn’t take the picture. The camera took the picture of the falling man.”
The photographer further detailed, “And when these people were falling, I would then put my finger on the trigger of the camera and I’d hold the camera up, and I’d photograph and follow them going down, and then the camera would open and close and take the pictures as they were going down.”
Over the years many attempts were made to identify the falling man, but his identity is a mystery even after all these years.
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