Best Friends Forever
Emerita de la Pena and Judith Diaz-Sierra met in business school as teenagers and soon became best friends. Each was the maid of honor at the other's wedding, they vacationed together with their husbands, and they both worked as administrative assistants at Fiduciary Trust Company International, where Mrs. De la Peña had helped recruit Ms. Diaz-Sierra in 1997.
Mrs. De la Pena, 32, of Queens, known by her nickname, Emy, was the extrovert of the two. The mother of a 1-year-old daughter, Daniella, she wanted to become a schoolteacher and had been attending St. Francis College in Brooklyn part time to get a bachelor's degree. "She's beautiful and she was a beautiful person," said her husband, Gabriel.
Ms. Diaz-Sierra was reserved but "had a great laugh, a great heart, was very high in her morals and very selective about her friends," said her husband, Ron Sierra.
Ms. Diaz-Sierra, 32, worked one row away from her best friend on the 90th floor of 2 World Trade Center. A co-worker told Mr. Sierra the two were together when he last saw them on the day of the attacks, as they held the door open for him.
Mr. Sierra rushed to the city from Suffolk County, where he and his wife lived, after learning of the attack, but could not get onto the Brooklyn Bridge. As he watched the soot-covered people walking from Manhattan, he said, "I was just hoping that Emy and Judith would come out, that they were among the thousands crossing the bridge."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 12, 2001.