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The morning of 11th of September 2001 shook not just America, but the whole world. The terrorists attack on the World Trade Center in New York has incredible stories of people who witnessed the most petrifying day of their lives and have been affected by it deeply.
But there is one woman whose story stands out. She has had an experience like no else had. She has seen a side of the 9/11 attack that no one else had seen.
She has told her story several times at several public speaking events, but there’s always something about it that catches extra attention.
After almost 2,606 people died on the black day that the 11th of September 2001 turned out to be, nobody has ever been able to forget it. When the whole of New York had just started a new morning, all the citizens were numb when the terrorists attacked the center of the city.
Of the thousands of people who were in the Twin Towers on that unfortunate day of September, only a few were lucky enough to escape the hands of death. But what they saw that day still haunts them, and forever will. One such person is Tania Head.
Alicia Esteve Head, famously known as Tania Head was born on July 31, 1973. She survived the 9/11 attack, but her story stands out from all other survivors of the day. She has some details in her story that no other person has.
Morning of 11th
Tania was working in the south tower of the world trade center on the day of the attack. She had been at the center to help in the negotiation of a deal which was a part of her job at Merrill Lynch, an investment firm.
At 8:46 am, a hijacked American Airlines plane 175 crashed into the upper floor of the North Tower, the worst tragedy for the city. All the people present in the tower started to run downwards to evacuate the place but there was a lot more to come.
At around 9:00 am, when everyone in the towers was running for their lives, a second plane crashed into the building between its 77th and 85th floors. The aircrafts had been transformed into deadly weapons by the terrorists.
After the first crash in the North Tower, Tania started running downwards since she was on the 96th floor of South Tower in the office of Fiduciary Trust Company. But she had only reached 18 floors below when the second crash took place.
Tania did succeed in coming out safe from the building, and she seemed to be exceptionally lucky to have been one of the very few people to have come out alive from the 77th floor and above.
When the second plane crashed, the havoc increased and it was madness all around because of which Tania fainted midway. She claims that she was awoken by a young man named Welles Crowther who was also working in the South Tower that day.
Welles was the one to have saved the lives of 18 people. He is known as a hero ever since. Welles was a volunteer firefighter and equities trader. Tania tells that he even put out the flames that her clothes had caught.
Tania came out of the building facing a lot of difficulties. She had only one thing on mind that gave her the strength to continue struggling, and that was her wedding dress. Her fiance, Big Dave was also present in the tower at the same time and the two were soon going to tie the knot.
But unluckily, as Tania tells in her story, neither her fiance nor Welles Crowther could make it. Crowther died while rescuing more people and her fiance also lost his life while attempting to come out of the North Tower.
Before we know of the event of Tania’s 9/11 story that will leave you speechless, there’s another aspect of it, an encounter that she explains every time she tells her story to someone. As she was descending the foot of the south tower, a dying man entrusted her with his wedding ring to be given to his wife to remember him.
The dying man’s treasure, as Tania tells, was delivered successfully by her to his grieving wife on the address the man had given to Tania. But things were soon going to take a jaw-dropping turn.
Head claimed that while coming out of the tower, when her clothes had caught fire, her arm was badly burned by the flames but she had been able to miraculously escape the doomed tower. This is how Tania’s story would start and end, but there was something about her story that everyone was missing on.
Tania considered herself a survivor of the doomed tragedy and had to fight depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for a very long time. But then she decided to help the fellow-survivors and make them strong again.
Head started an online survivor’s network and was eventually contacted by the World Trade Center Survivor’s Network (WTCSN) in 2005 and she was even made an important member of the board since her story was so alluring for everyone.
The World Trade Center Survivor’s Network was found in 2004 by Gerry Bogacz, who also made his way through the chaotic North Tower on the black morning of 11th September. And when he just came out on the street, the other plane crashed, and he was one of the most vocal survivors of the attacks.
Tania had gained immense fame after telling her story to people all around and gathering all the survivors to heal. From public platforms to conferences, Head shared her story everywhere and had become so famous that she was made the president of WTCSN.
In 2007, when the whole world was marking the sixth anniversary of the attacks, The New York Times interviewed Head. And that changed everything. Over the years, Head’s tale had been told and re-told a thousand times, but this time it was going to be different.
The whole team that was to interview Tania Head was really confused because when they cross-checked Tania’s claims from her story, they couldn’t find any of them to be true and they contacted her regarding the same.
At first, Tania had agreed on the interview with the NYT team, but later she pulled out the arrangements three times, making some excuse or the other. She said she had issues about her privacy and wasn’t comfortable to talk since she suffered emotional stress.
The journalists dug Head’s case deeper when they got no answer from the miraculous survivor. Her whole life was going to fall apart. First, a representative from Merrill Lynch confirmed that there was no record of any employee in their company under the name Tanya Head.
And when journalists tried to track down the family of the man who Head claims gave her his wedding ring, they were unable to do so either. There seemed to be no family or no man with the same description as Tanya had given.
Tania had met Welles’ parents and Mr. Jefferson, Welles’ father told the NYT, “During the dinner she said she still had her burned clothing and was going to send us a piece of it on a plaque, since it was one of the last things our son had touched.”
But the grieving parents never received what could have been the most precious thing of their lives. “She never shared those details, and it was nothing we wanted to probe,” Crowther’s mother, Alison, told the NYT. “I felt it was too private and painful for her.”
A Lot More
This was not just about the strings that hung loosely from Tania’s story. The team of journalists got in contact with the family of Big Dave, whom Tania had claimed to be her fiance. But to their utter surprise, they had no idea who Tania was. Yes, a man named Big Dave lost his life in the attacks but no one in his family knew who Tania was.
Lies On Lies
With time and analysis, it also came out that Tania had been telling altogether different stories about her and Dave’s relationship to people, and no one’s story connected with the other, where she would also add that they were to get married in October of 2001.
To rise in her position, Tania had claimed that she had degrees from both Harvard and Stanford. But as expected, the truth came out that she had no degree from either institution and there had been no student enrolled under the same name as hers.
At the 2006 memorial event, Head had recounted her story saying, “What I witnessed there I will never forget. It was a lot of death and destruction, but I also saw hope.” All of this was nothing more than a lie.
On October 1, a Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia came ahead out of the blue and published an article about Tania. They told that Head was actually from Barcelona and worked in the city as a secretary manager before the attacks, where she had even told a colleague that her arm had a burn injury due to a car crash.
The Spanish newspaper also revealed that Tania had enrolled in Barcelona’s ESADE Business school until 2002. And the shock came in when they revealed that Tania hadn’t even been in New York at the time of the attack.
After the truth came out, everyone wanted Tania Head to come out and clear all the lies and misconceptions she had created. But Head was nowhere to be found. She had vanished in the air and never came back until..
In February of 2008, the WTCSN’s address received an email from an unknown sender. The mail claimed that the once-president of the WTCSN, Tania, had taken her own life. BUT, she was seen around the time of the tenth anniversary of the attacks in the streets of New York.
Tania Head’s story was so intricately woven yet it fell apart so easily, that film-maker Anglio J. Guglielmo, who was also Tania’s friend at one time, decided to make a movie on her story. He entitled the movie, The Woman Who Wasn’t There.
Guglielmo had captured Tania and her experiences in the hope of making a documentary on the efforts of the World Trade Center Survivor’s Network. Little did he know that those footages would be a part of something so strange as this.
Not just a movie, but a book was also published under the name of The Woman Who Wasn’t There. The book told how Head rose to fame with the World Trade Center Survivor’s Network and fell tragically from grace.
While releasing his movie, Guglielmo commented, “I suppose Tania had intervals of believing her magnificent story. But there must also have been cruel, brief interludes of clarity when she understood this was a world she had created and that – unlike her ordeal on the 78th floor – there was no savior and no way out.”
There seems to have been no certain reason why Tania would do what she did. “I still get moved when I think of her dignified, understated talk about an unimaginable and horrible loss,” Craig Miller, the person who had brought Tania to speak at New York’s Baruch College, told The New York Times.
A Good Person
“To me, Tania was a beautiful woman,” filmmaker Angelo J. Guglielmo wrote in a 2012 article for HuffPost. “Not in the conventional sense – but in other, more vulnerable ways: her bold reproof of death, her passion about doing something vital with her survivor experience; her conviction; the message she embodied of living through the pain no matter what. Everyone fell in love with her.”
After all the lies that Tania had woven, she lost everything. WTCSN voted and her position as presidentship was terminated in 2007. She lost all of her reputed fame and it was all back talks and disgrace that was left in her kitty now.
According to Janice Cilento, a WTCSN board member, Tania had eventually admitted that she had been indulged in a fantasy about Big Dave. She confessed about never really being in a relationship with a person named Dave.
Ever since the shameful events, Tania Head is not seen anymore. No more ranting of her false story and no more considering herself a strong survivor. She disappeared after her revelation and has never come back in public ever since.