9/11 20th Anniversary

Widow of 9/11 Hero Meets Woman Her Husband Rescued After 20 Years

A photo published in the Daily News showed Port Authority Police Officer Christopher Amoroso helping a woman before he went back into the WTC and was killed in the collapse

NBC Universal, Inc. Jaime Amoroso lost her husband who worked for Port Authority Police at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Twenty years later, Amoroso finally found the woman whose life her husband saved. NBC New York’s Adam Harding reports.

Jaime Amoroso lost her husband who worked for Port Authority Police at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. A photograph showed him rescuing a woman that day, but her identity remained a mystery until now.

Jaime married Christopher Charles Amoroso on Nov. 26, 1999. Together they had a daughter. When asked what she remembered the morning of 9/11, the widow said, "it was a beautiful day."

"I remember he left and he said I'm working at the World Trade Center," she said, recalling that she told him to be careful. "He goes, 'what's going to happen?'"

"I knew when the second tower fell. I had a feeling that it wasn't going to be good. I just knew."

Christopher loved his job, Jaime said. In her husband's finals moments, she was able to see his heroism in action --- thanks to Daily News photographer Todd Maisel who snapped a photo of the officer appearing to escort a woman away from danger following the terror attack.

"[The photo] was given to me," Jaime said. "It was good and bad. We have the proof he was a hero. He saved this woman."

For two decades, Jaime waited to hear from the mystery woman. She often wondered if the woman made it out alive because no one had been able to identify her from the photo.

"As time went on, I started to think maybe he didn't save her, or get her far enough, because we had never found her or had anybody ever spoken to her," Jaime said.

The photo wasn't only important to Jaime, but Maisel as well. He keeps a print of it boxed up in storage, out of sight but never out of mind. Maisel says the selflessness portrayed within the image stuck with him. He now lives a quieter life in rural Massachusettes but he'll never forget what he saw that day.

"I know every detail. I remember it all like it was yesterday," Maisel said. "[Amoroso] was one of the first officers I saw. [The woman] was in distress and Chris was determined to help her. It was like the photo brought him back to life. For that moment, they were able to see Chris for the hero that he was. I took two frames, and then I lost them."

Maisel also never found the woman in his photo. But out of thousands of social media posts in tribute to 9/11 victims before the attacks' 20th anniversary, someone identified the woman as his mother.

This photo was taken of Port Authority Police Officer Christopher Amoroso and Suman Dhamija shortly before Amoroso went back into #2 World Trade Center and was killed in the collapse on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

"That woman Officer Amoroso is seen helping in this photo is my mother, Suman Dhamija. My mother has severe asthma so after running down the stairs of the 2nd tower and with all the debris and smoke in the air, she could not breathe," the commenter said. "Officer Amoroso helped lift her up and walk away from the towers. This photo was taken before the 2nd tower collapsed."

Dhamija was working in the tower at the time. She now lives in India and she still remembers what Officer Amoroso said to her that day 20 years ago.

"He said, 'Ma'am, relax. We are here to help,'" she said. "I wish the best for his family, for his loved ones. If he wasn't there, there is no way I could have made it."

Officer Amoroso got Dhamija to safety before going back to help others, she said. Dhamija says she never got a chance to thank the brave officer for saving her life. So every Sept. 11, her family light candles for her as they celebrate her second birth, thanks to Amoroso.

"I always felt bad because I have lived my life, and he was still so young," Dhamija said. She's now a grandmother and Amoroso is still on her mind.

In a message to Jaime, Dhamija said, "Tell her that she had such a wonderful husband and that I'm alive because of him."

Jaime broke down in tears once she finally learned the identity of that woman whose life her husband saved.

"I can't believe she's alive. I can't believe she has the same face," Jaime said. "She's the last person with him. He went in with a purpose, to want to save as many people as possible. The fact that I get to hear somebody say it."

Then a new relationship was born out of tragedy. Jaime finally got to meet Dhamija after nearly two decades, even if it's only through a video call.

"You look exactly the same. If I walked past you on the street, I would have known who you were because I've looked at that picture so many times," Jaime told Dhamija. "I'm glad he did his job that day, so you could be with your family."

"Did he seem scared?" Jaime asked.

Dhamija replied, "He wasn't scared, but I was scared."

It has been a long journey of healing for Jaime but she finally got the closure she was searching for. One day, Jaime plans to have her daughter meet Dhamija and they can create new memories.

"Life goes on," she told Dhamija. "Chapter's closed, I guess. Looking forward to starting new things. It's time."

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