One of our own remembers 9/11
By Carin R. Kirkegaard; photos courtesy of the Ressetar family
Karen and J.P. Ressetar, residents of The Village at Castle Pines since 1995, will forever remember Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Like the rest of the country, the events that occurred on that day left indelible marks on their family. Their oldest son J.D. was working in the south tower at One World Trade Center when the planes struck.
On the morning of 9/11, J.P. was driving to his bible study group located at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch. He had KOA NewsRadio tuned in and heard that the north tower at One World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. J.P., like many who heard the news that morning, was alarmed and thought there must have been something wrong with the plane. He remembers thinking of his son J.D., who worked in the south tower on the 58th floor and dismissing the worry; his son wasn’t in that building.
Back at home, Karen was still in bed when she received a call from J.D. He had walked down the stairs from his office to the 44th floor and called her.
“The stairs were crowded going down but the march was organized and people remained calm. Once we arrived at the 44th floor, I tried to use my cell phone to call my mother. I was able to get a weak signal to call her. Mom answered the phone, but I was barely able to hear her. I told her to turn on the TV and the building hit was not my building. I then lost the signal,” J.D. stated in his recounting of his experience.
While walking down to the 44th floor, there was an overhead announcement letting those in the south tower know that the building was secure and not in danger. With that assurance, J.D. concluded that, “I could safely return to my desk on the 58th floor, make a phone call to my father and girlfriend, get my bag, and get out of the building.” J.D. got on the elevator and returned to his office.
Back in Castle Pines, Karen turned on the TV and watched as the second plane flew into the south tower.
J.D. had made it back to his office, catching glimpses out the window of what was happening at the north tower, hearing from others of people jumping from windows. “At this point I was concerned but did not really understand the severity of the situation,” J.D. stated. He checked in with his father and girlfriend (now wife), assuring them it wasn’t his building on fire.
“Shortly after I hung up the phone, our building was hit. I heard a large boom and the building shook, lights went out, and parts of the ceiling started to fall down. Panic had now hit me. I grabbed my bag and ran for the stairs. Once in the stairwell, we moved in an orderly manner as fast as possible. The path that I walked nearly every day had debris 6 inches deep. As we entered the mall, there were a number of police and firefighters directing people out of the building and into the street. I quickly moved away from the buildings toward my apartment in midtown. My primary concern was to get to a telephone to let my family and friends know I was alive. It took me about 45 minutes to get home. By the time I arrived, both buildings had collapsed,” J.D. continued.
After finishing his bible study, J.P. immediately left for home with the dial still tuned to KOA. Now news announcers were saying the south tower had been hit. J.P. said he had made up his mind to call into the station when he got home to let them know they had it wrong. It was the north tower, not the south. Finally, after arriving home he joined his wife to watch the continuing coverage and to see the south tower fall. “I went into the bedroom, shut the door and prayed,” J.P. recalled.
When his son’s call finally came, J.P. said, “It was my lucky day. This was my oldest son and we hadn’t heard anything. We kept getting calls from friends asking about J.D. and we didn’t know anything. It was our faith that held us together.”
For J.D. he recounted, “My feelings for the people lost, I cannot explain. How blessed am I to have made it out when others did not. All I can do is be grateful I survived. My heart and prayers go out to those lost in this tragedy, especially the firefighters and police that lost their lives saving so many.”