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It is a mere coincidence that Tom Michaud wasn't in the World Trade Center on the Tuesday morning that changed the course of world history.
Michaud, now the CEO and president of investing firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., credits two reasons for his absence on Sept. 11, 2001: a Michael Jackson concert the night before that prompted him to ask his backup to run the daily 7:30 a.m. meeting, and a surprise interruption by his 4-year-old son that morning as he was getting ready.
He just barely missed his train from Connecticut into Manhattan; when he did arrive, emerging from the Fulton Street subway stop across the street from the World Trade Center, he saw the first American Airlines jet crash into the north tower.
Michaud, running from the building, called the office and spoke to KBW's co-CEO at the time, John Berry, who told him that the employees would stay; he was preparing to resume his walk to the office, when he saw the gaping hole in the north tower, the fire, the trauma. He froze in his tracks, eyes squeezed shut, when the second plane hit the south tower.
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"I think it was at that time I said, 'Oh my god. My friends and colleagues are up there,’" he said. "The feeling was overwhelming."
KBW lost 67 employees, more than one-third of its New York workforce, when hijacked planes rammed into the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center. At the time, the firm was on the 88th and 89th floors of the south tower, right above the point of impact of the second jet. The 9/11 attacks, perpetrated by the terrorist group al Qaeda, were the deadliest ever on American soil.