Following His Dream
Hernando R. Salas used to dream of New York City. Back in Cartagena, Colombia, he longed to see the Statue of Liberty. So he and his wife moved here in the 1960's. Their two children quickly followed. "He was here when they started building the World Trade Center," said their son Carlos. "He always dreamed of working close over there. When he got the job, he was so happy."
Mr. Salas, 71, had worked part time for the past five years as a clerk for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, on the third floor of 40 Rector Street just south of the trade center. Upbeat and gregarious, he never wanted to retire. People who did nothing risked getting Alzheimer's disease, he told Carlos. He didn't want that. He wanted to stay tuned in.
A week before the attack, Mr. Salas visited relatives in Florida. He returned home to Elmhurst, Queens, saying Florida depressed him. It rained all day there, he said; in New York, it rains for a while, then it lifts. Mr. Salas was found in the street outside the Rector Street building and was taken to New York University Downtown Hospital, Carlos said. There, he suffered a heart attack and died.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 22, 2001.