Former Fairbanks woman among Trade Center missing

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A former Fairbanks woman is among those missing following Tuesday's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

Kirsten Janssen Santiago, a 1993 graduate of West Valley High School, called her aunt, Cheryl Davis, to tell her she was OK soon after a hijacked jet slammed into her building at the Trade Center. She called from an office on the 79th floor of the South Tower. The three-minute call was made about 5:45 a.m. Alaska time.

Santiago, 26, told her aunt, who has been her legal guardian since age 9, that there had been a terrorist attack on her building. She had already called her husband, Peter, an Amtrak security guard, and asked for the phone number of another aunt.

But before she could say goodbye to Davis with her usual ''I love you,'' the phone line went dead. Minutes later, the South Tower collapsed.

''We're still hoping we can find her somewhere,'' said Marcus Swart, Davis' son. ''We're still holding out that our prayers will be answered and we will find her.''

Santiago had been working for a temporary agency in the tower for the last six weeks.

After high school graduation she attended Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, earning a degree in economics. There she met her future husband whom she married four years ago following her college graduation.

Her last visit to Fairbanks was in May to attend the high school graduation of Davis' youngest daughter.

For others, the news was better. Many Fairbanksans have learned through e-mails and phone calls that family members and friends safely escaped the terrorist attacks.

John Lentine knew by midday Tuesday that his sister, Air Force Lt. Col. Geri Posner, is safe. Posner, who is expecting twins in February, attended Anderson Elementary School on Eielson Air Force Base as a child.

''It was her last week of work at the Pentagon after many years there,'' Lentine said.

Deb Hickok, executive director of the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, had four New York cousins survive the World Trade Center attack. The cousin closest to the disaster was walking across the grand concourse of the center when the first plane hit.

''An elevator exploded out in front of him, and he ran out of the World Trade Center and saw doors shatter behind him, and he ran all the way to the Staten Island Ferry,'' Hickok said. He managed to hop on a ferry that was leaving, and his brother, a stock trader, who was just coming into work, met him on the Staten Island side.

''He had been crying all the way over,'' he said.

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