June 16, 2021
Sally Regenhard is the mother of Christian Michael Otto Regenhard, who died at the age of 28 on Sept. 11. Christian Regenhard worked as a Probationary Firefighter with Ladder 131 at the Red Hook Fire Station in Brooklyn. He was listed as missing at the World Trade Center.
He was born on August 23, 1973, and was raised in the Bronx. Upon graduation from school, he traveled with his close friend Kyle Osborn to Mexico and Central America. A year after graduating from high school, Christian enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for five years. During that time, he was the recipient of twelve medals and awards for excellence. Over the years Christian travelled extensively, including to the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, France, Spain, South America, China, Japan, and across the USA to California.
After rising to the rank of sergeant in the United States Marines, once he was discharged, Christian moved to San Francisco. It was there he studied art, language and writing at San Francisco state University. He also took up rock climbing, and by 2001 he had traveled to 22 countries. Over the years Christian had learned to scuba dive, and run marathons. His obituary noted that as he pursued his adventures, he had disappointed “a parade of women.” Sally Regenhard said of her son “He was a babe magnet. He spoke the language of love.”
Christian Regenhard decided in January 2001 to join the Fire Department, and had graduated from the Fire Academy on July 27, 2001. He had been with the Fire Department for six weeks, and was still a probationary firefighter on Sept. 11. He was with Ladder Company 131 in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Sally Regenhard states that her son was covering for someone in the engine company that morning. In his obituary in the New York Times it was written “His brother firefighters agreed that they never met anyone like Christian Regenhard. He leaves behind legions of shocked and heartbroken friends and relatives all over the world.”
A member of the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission, Sally Regenhard testified before the 9/11 Commission on November 19, 2003. She pointed out to the 9/11 commissioners that the Port Authority “really had no evacuation procedures at all.” She was horrified that “The PA’s buildings were totally immune from every single NYC building and fire code and were subject to ‘the Port Authority’s own codes’ which remain a mystery to this day, because no one has ever seen them. The PA repeatedly claims that they ‘meet of exceed’ NYC codes, however, history has shown that this is a falsehood…. According to the NIST/WTC Collapse Investigation, there is no evidence that fire tests were ever done on the fireproofing of the WTC – this is a glaring example of lack of code compliance…” She lamented that “the FDNY had no jurisdiction in the WTC, but paradoxically, they were required to risk and eventually lose their lives in these buildings!” She also was critical that the radios that the firefighters took with them into the Twin Towers “did not work,” and had not worked since at least 1993. She observed, “To this day, no one has been held accountable or responsible for these massive failures of the public trust.” She recommended that the 9/11 Commission “Require that the Port Authority of NY & NJ rebuild the new WTC under the legal jurisdiction of NYC Building and Fire Department codes.”
On August 3, 2004, Sally Regenhard gave testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform. The 9/11 Commission Report had been published two weeks prior. She told the members of the Congressional committee that despite her regard for the effort by the 9/11 Commissioners, there were some glaring errors in the Report. She explained, “One particular aspect of the report that is quite troubling to me and my organization is the discussion relating to the evacuation orders of the North Tower on pages 322-323 of the report and the corresponding endnote numbers 209. It is alleged that many of the firefighters in the North Tower heard the message to evacuate but chose to remain in the building prior to its collapse. To the contrary, this issue of firefighter deaths is directly tied to the lack of radio communication capability. This has been well documented in the post 9/11 McKinsey Report, the NY Times, and numerous other publications and firefighter comments. Yet this theory that firefighters chose to die, has also been advanced by some public officials, undoubtedly hoping to deflect criticism for the inadequacy of the FDNY radios and for the absence of a functioning Incident Command Structure in NYC on 9/11 which undoubtedly could have saved so many firefighter’s lives, including my own beautiful son, Christian.
I take specific exception to the section in the Commission Report which states: “In view of these considerations, we conclude that the technical failure of the FDNY radios, while a contributing factor was not the primary cause of the many firefighter fatalities in the North Tower.” I and my technical advisors have reviewed the substantiating documentation and have found it lacking. In essence, the report makes very weak arguments such as “it is very possible that at least some of these firefighters did hear the evacuation order” as well as the most curious statement that firefighters were “likely to have known to evacuate.” Such statements are not conclusive. Stating that the firefighters refused to evacuate the building (for whatever reason) and disobeyed such an important order simply cannot be confirmed and is a disservice to their memory. These people are dead – we cannot ask them these questions. The questionable findings of Chapter 9 are based on interviews and transcripts which the families and the public have no access to. In addition, many surviving firefighters and ranking officers referred to the Commission by the Skyscraper Safety Campaign have stated that no evacuation order was ever heard by them.”
Sally Regenhard wrote an article in the Daily News on September 11, 2016, titled “15 Years of Tears, 9/11 Victims Still Disrespected.”
In it she stated “Fifteen years later, buildings are constructed, the stores are open and shopping malls and parks are in place. But that cannot hide or disguise the fact that more than 1,100 people – including my son Firefighter Christian Regenhard, remain missing from the World Trade Center site. This represents an astonishing 40% of all uniformed and civilian victims…. While American reveres its dead military on Memorial Day and celebrates this country on the Fourth of July and once again remembers this attack on America every 9/11, we want to scream out to the world: ‘Why are the missing heroes and victims’ remains being treated as a tourist trap freak show attraction at the…pay-to-grieve museum?’
She continues, “The personal grief and depression and the indignity that we have to bear is an atrocity not only to this city, but to America as well. It is truly an affront to all military to know that people like my son, a decorated U.S. Marine recon sergeant who died for this city and this country are being treated like dirt – placed precariously at a subterranean level in a flood zone “A” area of this city, 80 feet below sea level in the basement of a museum.”
Sally Regenhard is the Asst. Chair of 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighter and WTC Victims; Founder and Chairperson of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, and member of the Coalition of 9/11 Families, 9/11 Families for a Secure America, and LMDC Families Advisory Council. Her hometown is the Bronx, New York.
“Testimony of Sally Regenhard,” 9/11 Commission, November 19, 2003.
“Testimony of Sally Regenhard,” House Committee on Government Reform, August 3, 2004. Sally Regenhard, “15 Years of Tears, 9/11 Victims Still Disrespected,” Daily News, September 11, 2016.