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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, September 12, 2001

America's bloodiest day
Two Hawai'i women may be victims

By Curtis Lum, Vicki Viotti and Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writers

A Kailua resident who was an active member of the Outdoor Circle in Hawai'i was presumed to be one of the 38 passengers aboard a United Airlines flight that crashed in a Pennsylvania field yesterday.

Christine Snyder, 32, was the project manager with the Outdoor Circle and had been in Washington, D.C., for an urban forestry conference. Snyder was traveling with Outdoor Circle chief executive officer Mary Steiner to New York on Saturday for a couple of days of leisure activity, said Steiner's husband, David Atkin.

Atkin said Snyder and Steiner were on their way home yesterday. He said Snyder took United flight 93 that was to have stopped in San Francisco, while Steiner flew home via Minneapolis.

Flight 93 was hijacked and crashed 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh a short time after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Atkin said he began getting calls at 4 a.m. yesterday from friends who were concerned about his wife.

"I started getting phone calls because people on the East Coast knew that Mary was traveling today and were wondering if I had heard from her," Atkin said last night.

But almost immediately after the initial calls, he said Steiner called him from Toronto, where her plane was diverted.

He said the two of them did not find out about Snyder until several hours later.

"She's very upset, very upset," Atkin said. "It's a small, tight office, to lose someone so unexpectedly like this is really upsetting."

Snyder grew up in Kailua and recently got married.

Atkin said she was very active with the Outdoor Circle, an organization that sponsors outdoor beautification projects, and the local arborists association.

"She was incredible. She was vivacious; she was full of life. She was really into the Outdoor Circle," he said.

Meanwhile, many in Hawai'i anxiously awaited word of the fate of those with Hawai'i ties.

Heather M. Ho, an 32-year-old professional pastry chef from Honolulu, is among those missing, her grandmother Betty Ho said.

"We've tried to call her since 4 a.m. this morning," Betty Ho, widow of financier and real estate developer Chinn Ho, said yesterday. "Hopefully she's somewhere and we don't know about it."

Heather Ho, daughter of Capital Investment of Hawai'i chairman and president Stuart Ho, worked at the Windows on the World restaurant on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center's north tower, the first building hit in yesterday's attack.

Stuart Ho could not be reached for comment. Until his retirement last year, he was chairman of Gannett Pacific Corp. and a member of the board of directors of Gannett Corp., which owns The Advertiser.

Heather Ho's uncle Stanley Hong, who recently retired as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai'i, said Heather Ho had relocated to New York from San Francisco within the past year.

On the ground below the World Trade Center, Eric Ogawa knew something was wrong when he stepped off the New York City subway to go to his office on the north tower's 82nd floor and saw people running through heavy smoke.

"I could feel it. Everything was rattling. People were running and screaming," said Ogawa, 36, vice president and analyst in the credit division of Fuji Bank. "I saw that my building was burning. At that point, I told myself I'd better get out of here."

Even for those with no personal stake in the tragedy, a surreal quality pervaded yesterday's tragedy.

Honolulu resident Jim Delano, stopping off in New York on a trip to Baltimore, stood on the roof of a 12-story building and watched the shadowy specter of the second airplane crash into the World Trade Center.

"It was like a mushroom cloud," he said.

Advertiser staff writers Catherine Toth and Yasmin Anwar contributed to this report.