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Tania Head (born Alicia Esteve Head on July 31, 1973) is a Spanish woman who gained media attention after she fabricated a story about surviving the World Trade Center September 11 attacks.

Contents

Claims as a 9/11 victim

Head claimed that she was on the 78th floor of the South Tower (WTC 2) when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the floor where she stood. This would have made her one of only 19 people at or above the point of impact to have survived.[1][2] She said that a man by the name of Dave, who perished in the North Tower (WTC 1), was her fiance or husband.[3] She also claimed to have been given a dying man's wedding ring and to have returned it to his widow, and to have been rescued herself by Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old trader who perished in the collapse after rescuing others.[2]

Head regularly recounted her claims to Ground Zero tour groups in vivid detail, saying, "I was there at the towers. I'm a survivor. I'm going to tell you about that."[1]

Volunteer work as representative victim

Head led tours for the Tribute W.T.C. Visitor Center for visitors including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former New York Governor George Pataki. She also made many speeches at colleges and with support groups, recounting her story as a victim of the 9/11 attacks.

Head indicated that these activities were unpaid volunteer efforts on her part. She was presented in retrospective articles on the World Trade Center aspect of 9/11 as representative of all of the 20,000 surviving New York victims who escaped the damaged buildings.[4]

Claims disputed

In late September 2007 The New York Times was unable to verify key details of her story, one of which, her engagement to a man named "Dave", was contradicted by family and friends, whose identities are being withheld to protect their privacy. Additionally, Janice Cilento, a social worker who is on the board of the Survivors' Network and close to Head, said she had made changes to her account of events in recent weeks. Head also claimed a degree from Harvard University and a graduate business degree from Stanford University, which the institutions deny.[2]

The company where she said she worked at the World Trade Center, Merrill Lynch, said it has no record of her being employed there.[5]

According to Adrian Gatton, who produced a documentary, The 9/11 Faker, for Channel 4 in the UK, Head was not even in the United States on September 11, 2001, but in Barcelona, Spain, where she was attending classes at a business school. A report in La Vanguardia, a daily newspaper in Barcelona, on October 2, 2007, told how Head attended classes in an MBA program at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, just a week after the attack in which she had supposedly been critically injured. None of her classmates heard her talk of the attack, she showed no injuries and said nothing about losing a fiancé or husband. The arm injury that she claimed to have sustained in the WTC attack had been explained to friends there as the result of an automobile accident, or alternatively of a riding accident.

La Vanguardia added that Head attended classes in the program through June 2002 and told classmates she wanted to work in New York. Head had earlier attended the University of Barcelona, and worked for a local entertainment promoter and for Hovisa, a Spanish hotel company.[6] Head was said to have traveled to the US for the first time in 2003.[7]

Head's current whereabouts are unknown. In February 2008, an email was sent from a Spanish account to members of the World Trade Center Survivors Network, claiming that Head had committed suicide.[8][9]

References

  1. ^ a b Michael Daly (September 7, 2006). "An Amazing Woman & Her Smile". New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2006/09/07/2006-09-07_an_amazing_woman__her_smile.html. Retrieved 2007-09-27. "The momentum of her memories sometimes causes Tania Head to tell a tour group about the horribly burned man who handed her his wedding ring as she escaped the south tower. On occasion, she also tells the visitors that her own husband perished in the north tower. She always begins by introducing herself to those who come for a first-person account of 9/11 from one of the 122 volunteer guides at the new Tribute WTC Visitor Center.. "My name is Tania and I'm going to be your tour guide today," she said the other afternoon."  
  2. ^ a b c David W. Dunlap and Serge F. Kovalevski (September 27, 2007). "In a 9/11 Survival Tale, the Pieces Just Don't Fit". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/nyregion/27survivor.html?em&ex=1191038400&en=620a38f8cc36fbd0&ei=5087%0A. Retrieved 2007-09-27. "Tania Head's story, as shared over the years with reporters, students, friends and hundreds of visitors to ground zero, was a remarkable account of both life and death."  
  3. ^ "Woman's 9/11 survival story questioned". Associated Press. September 27, 2007. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070927/ap_on_re_us/sept11_story_questioned_1. "Tania Head has said that she was badly burned on the 78th floor of the south tower, that she was saved by a man who died trying to save others, and that a dying man handed her his inscribed wedding ring, which she later returned to his widow. She also said her husband, or fiance, died in the north tower."  
  4. ^ "Tales Of The City, Revisited". Time (magazine). August 29, 2004. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101040906-689463,00.html. "Still, psychologists say the most overexposed - and under recognized - victims may be the nearly 20,000 New Yorkers who walked, ran and crawled through smoke, fire and body parts to escape the buildings. "People cannot understand. We saw things," says Tania Head, who was injured while evacuating. "We had to make life-or-death decisions. The higher the floor, the more lonely you were. I can't get rid of my fear that it's going to happen again.""  
  5. ^ "Paper finds big holes in woman's tales of surviving 9/11". USA Today. http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/09/paper-finds-big.html. "She has a compelling story. Is it true? The New York Times reports today that "no part of her story, it turns out, has been verified." The company she says she worked for on 9/11 says it never heard of her. The same goes for the family of her "fiance" or "husband," according to the paper."  
  6. ^ "Alicia Esteve comenzó curso en Barcelona días después del 11-S (Alicia Esteve began course in Barcelona days after 9/11)". La Vanguardia. http://www.lavanguardia.es/lv24h/20071002/53398509981.html. Retrieved 2007-10-02.  
  7. ^ "The fantasist of 9/11". Daily Mail. September 12, 2008. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1054790/The-fantasist-9-11-The-story-Tania-Heads-escape-Twin-Towers-captivated-America-heroine-survivors--Just-problem--wasnt-day.html. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  8. ^ "The same old story". New Statesman. September 11, 2008. http://www.newstatesman.com/television/2008/09/head-story-september-edge. Retrieved 2009-09-13.  
  9. ^ Channel 4, The 9/11 Faker, broadcast September 11, 2008
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