Photo credit: 9/11 Memorial staff
Accession Number: C.2019.194.2
Credit Line: Gift of Alejandro Eguiluz Christoffersen
Recovered NOKIA-brand cell phone. The phone is broken into three parts, dirty, and scratched.
The week of September 10th, 2001, brought 24 year old Alejandro Eguiluz on business from Mexico City to New York, where he registered to stay at the New York Marriott World Trade Center Hotel. He was scheduled to speak at an event on Thursday, September 13th in the Windows of the World meeting space atop the North Tower. At the time, Eguiluz was an Investor Relations Officer representing Grupo Televisa.
On Tuesday morning, September 11th, Eguiluz was in his hotel room when he felt an abrupt sensation of the building shaking followed by the noise from a “huge explosion.” Eguiluz decided to abandon his room and all the belongings in it to evacuate, grabbing only his room key card. Once outside, he joined a crowd of other confused guests, tourists, and commuters trying to determine what was happening. Suddenly, another loud noise overhead caused him to look up and witness a second plane, hijacked United 175, smash into the South Tower.
Eguiluz stayed in the vicinity of the Marriott Hotel until the unexpected collapse of the South Tower. He ran south to find shelter. After the North Tower fell, Eguiluz instinctively tried to walk back to reclaim his belongings at the Marriott Hotel. Police on the scene, however, told him that the hotel was gone and he had to leave the area immediately. Later that Tuesday, Eguiluz finally managed to place a call to his secretary at Grupo Televisa to inform her of his whereabouts; she transferred him to a live broadcast feed with the station’s news anchor, Joaquin Lopez Doriga, to be interviewed.
About a week after the 9/11 attacks, Eguiluz managed to return to Mexico City. Approximately two years later, he received a letter from the NYPD Property Clerk reporting that some of his personal items had been found in the wreckage. Enclosed in a plastic evidence bag, sent to his residence in Mexico City, were his home keys, Nokia cell phone (in damaged condition), Mexican passport, travel visa and job card, a chipped pen, a notebook, and various other documents.
Eguiluz’s experience as a survivor is representative of many out-of-town and international travelers: caught up in the vortex of 9/11 with neither the local advantages of replacement belongings and forms of identification nor the support network of nearby family, friends, and homes to return to.