‘Did my dad help you on September 11, 2001?’: Search for people impacted by stranger’s kindness

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — A woman who lived in Denver is hoping to find people who her dad helped get home to their loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001.

In a viral Twitter thread, Mercedes Martinez talks about how her father’s flight from Ohio to Denver was grounded mid-flight when the Sept. 11 attacks happened.

“Shortly after takeoff, the pilot announced that the flight was being grounded. There was a breach of security and they had to land at the nearest airport. That airport was in Omaha,” she said. “My dad knew something was wrong, so as soon as he got cell service, he called one of the rental car companies and asked to rent the biggest van they had. At this point they were still in the air.”

After landing, Martinez’ father, Emilio, picked up the rental van and drove back to the terminal where he did everything he could to help strangers.

“He made a sign out of the box that said “GOING TO DENVER” on it. People started approaching him asking if he was going that way. He said yes, he rented a van and he would be able to take 7 people with him. Word started to get around,” she said.

On a day that changed the world, that gesture was more than most people expected, but Emilio kept going.

“When they got to the metro area, he drove every single person to their home,” Martinez said. “If you know the Denver area, it’s big. There are many suburbs in the area. But each one got front door service. They all offered to pay him for the cost of the van. He wouldn’t accept it. They offered him gas money. He didn’t take it.”

Five years ago, on July 24, 2016, Emilio died from brain cancer. But now, as we approach commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, she’s hoping to reconnect with those seven strangers.

“I know social media is powerful and I’m really hoping this tweet finds those people. I’d love to hear about that drive. His name is Emilio,” she said. “And I do believe my dad was a hero to 7 people that needed to get to their families in Denver on September 11th, 2001. If you were one of them, please DM me.”

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