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Native of the Valley finds reward in searching through WTC debris



Published: Tue, July 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



'It was the most rewarding thing I have ever done,' the YSU graduate said about searching for evidence from the terrorist attacks.

By RON COLE

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- It's been 322 days since two hijacked airliners crashed into and toppled the World Trade Center towers.

But for Stacy Ebert, it seems like just yesterday.

"For me, every day has been Sept. 11 since Sept. 11," said Ebert, an FBI agent and Howland native who has spent the last 101/2 months sifting through the remains of the downed skyscrapers.

"I'm ready to go on to Sept. 12. The rest of the world has been able to kind of move on. But, for those of us out there, every day has been Sept. 11."

Ebert returned to the Mahoning Valley on Monday to present to Youngstown State University's criminal justice department a tattered U.S. flag that flew over the landfill in Staten Island, where about 1 million tons of debris from the two buildings was taken.

A 1995 graduate of YSU, Ebert also gave the university a jagged chunk of concrete from the destroyed towers. Both items will be put in a display case in YSU's criminal justice department.

The flag may be flown when YSU Student Government dedicates a new campus flagpole on the one-year anniversary of the attacks, said Dr. Tammy King, criminal justice department chairwoman.

"The stuff I have, I don't want it sitting in my closet," Ebert said. "I would rather for people to see it and know what happened out there."

Ebert, a 1991 graduate of Howland High School and the daughter of Becky and James Ebert of Howland, joined the FBI in 1996 and was stationed in Manhattan, about eight blocks from the World Trade Center.

She was at her home in New Jersey on the morning of the attacks. Two days later, she was assigned to ground zero to search for evidence, including the black data boxes from the two airliners.

Landfill search

About 45 days later, she was moved to the Staten Island landfill to continue the evidence search.

"It was difficult, but it was the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life," Ebert said Monday from YSU. "You get great satisfaction out of being able to return something to family members."

While the black boxes were never found, Ebert said the FBI and other law enforcement agencies did recover more than 60,000 personal items in the debris.

"Maybe it was a paper weight, jewelry, just whatever you can think of," she said. "We recovered rings, necklaces, watches, pictures -- lots and lots of pictures."

"We had family members who came out to view the site," she added. "Whenever we would find something or have something to give back to them, it was a very good feeling."

Ebert said today will be her last official day reporting to the landfill. She said it will be a relief returning to a post-Sept. 11 work situation.

cole@vindy.com




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