Stephen Romei and his wife, my daughter Sally Jackson, who was born in Rabaul, were New York-based correspondents for The Australian from July 1999 to July 2002. In today’s issue of the newspaper Stephen writes of his 9/11 in an article dramatically entitled,‘The day I feared I'd sent my wife to her death’ ….
“As it was 11pm in Sydney, the deadline would be tight. I decided to stay at the computer and write the story. My wife, Sally Jackson, also a journalist with The Australian, would duck out and get some colour. "Just get as close to the World Trade Centre as you can," I told her. A dozen words; it was five hours before I saw her again.
“Five hours in which I wrote and wrote and wrote. Just as well, really, as it was only the work that stood between me and panic and despair. As I watched the towers tumble in constant replay on CNN, I convinced myself that I had sent Sally to her death.
“She had the mobile but it was useless as the transmission tower was on the WTC. I didn't know that until much later; I must have called the number 100 times. Bizarrely, or so it seemed at the time, people in Australia - editors in Sydney, family, friends - had no trouble reaching me on my home phone.
“As it turned out, Sally got stuck on the subway and was never in any real danger. She got close enough to the scene to be covered in soot and dust, but that was all. About 2pm, she walked through the door of our apartment, about 20 blocks from Ground Zero. We have joked about it since.”
Photo: Sally with son, Sydney [Ingrid Jackson]