Lexington man remembers nephew who died on 9/11
Paul Kenneth Sloan was working in the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - We all remember where we were on that fateful September morning. For Peter Berres, September 11, 2001 is a day he will never forget.
Berres was preparing to drive from his home in Lexington to Bowling Green for a meeting when what was once a beautiful day took horrific turn. He watched as black smoke filled the New York City sky on his television. A plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
He picked up the phone and called his sister in California. Berres knew his nephew, Paul Kenneth Sloan worked in Manhattan’s financial district. He was worried that Paul might indirectly be affected by what he, and many others, assumed was an accident.
“I was watching it and at the time I thought it was an accident. I was hoping it was an accident,” said Berres.
Paul Kenneth Sloan’s fateful September morning would be forever memorialized almost six years later by his childhood best friend. Andrew Pridgen shared Paul’s story in a piece for the Nevada Appeal in 2007.
Pridgen shared that Paul woke up early that morning. He listened to Paul Simon before taking the E line to work and riding the elevator up to his office on the 89th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
When Berres spoke with his sister, he learned that Paul was much closed to the World Trade Center than he thought.
“She said, ‘He’s in the tower. I talked to him. He said he was gonna leave the tower. We hung up,’” said Berres.
As Paul made his way down the staircase from the 89th floor, the public announcement system came on. Someone told everyone that they should stay in the building, insisting it was much safer to be inside than out in the street. Paul returned to his office.
From his office, Paul spoke with his father on the phone. He was in a meeting in Houston, watching the news reports on what was happening in New York City. Paul told his father he had tried to evacuate the South Tower but was assured it was safer to stay inside.
At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Paul was on the phone with his father, who was watching as it happened. The phone line went dead.
Paul’s father took a car from Houston, where he was visiting for a business trip, back home to San Francisco. He picked up his wife and children and they drove across the country, straight to New York City.
“They got there and at that point I think pretty much they had to accept that Paul had not made it out,” said Berres.
21 years later, Berres sits in his living room reflecting on that fateful September morning. He describes his nephew Paul as two framed photographs sit on the coffee table in front of him.
The first photo is one Berres took of Paul as a child. They were on a family vacation at the time.
“Most other kids, they have their good moments and their bad moments. They’re devilish at one point and mischievous and another points they’re angelic, but he seemingly was angelic all the time,” said Berres.
The second photo is of Paul at 26. It’s the last known photo of him.
Paul studied history at Brown University. He was an offensive linemen on the school’s football team. He was a passionate San Francisco Giants fan. He believed that The Beatles produced the best music ever. He was a friend to many.
“He was, according to all the everyday people in his life, the nicest kid they came across. The cleaner that he would take his clothes to, the doorman. Everybody wanted to talk about what a decent person he was,” said Berres.
Now, they’re left wondering what could have been.
“What kind of beautiful grandchildren or nieces and nephews did we not get? What kind of wonderful young lady that would have come into his life at some point did we not meet?” said Berres. “The potential for somebody like this is a loss for all of us and we can speculate. I speculate because I’m confident that the wonderful things I would expect of him would have come true because he had already proven by the age of 26 that that’s who we was.”
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