Excerpt: A father's search for his son at Ground Zero


(Original publication: April 9, 2002)

Battalion Chief Ed Schoales, a 32-year veteran of the Fire Department, was doing paperwork at his fire station in the Bronx when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. His son Tom, of Stony Point, a probationary firefighter and former New York City police officer was assigned to Engine 4 in Manhattan, close to the Twin Towers. The elder Schoales learmed of the attack when a firefighter told him to turn on the television. Here are excerpts of his account of what follows, from "Report from Ground Zero,' by Dennis Smith.

"I looked at the television and couldn't believe my eyes. The second plane hit the building, and we were watching it on television. I know Tom is down there for Engine 4 must be second due on the box at the World Trade Center, maybe third due. I watched the buildings come down and I still couldn't believe it.

The total recall came in, and I finally said, I just can't sit here and watch this any longer. I called the division and told them that I couldn't stay in the office, that I had to go down there. The deputy sent a chief over to relieve me, and another deputy who was going down there gave me a lift.

At first I was hoping that he wasn't there, but I knew he had to be there. I assumed. The first thing I did was try to find out if anyone knew anything about Engine 4. I didn't make any calls because I wasn't going to get anybody, anyway