Closure for Dr. Sneha Philip, 9/11 Victim

After a long court battle, the family of Dr. Sneha Philip is feeling some closure. The New York medical examiner’s office has finally concluded that she must have died in the twin towers, and restored her name to the list of official victims of the terror attacks (thanks, Art Vandalay).

Her name had been removed from the list in 2006, after a judge found that there was no conclusive evidence she had been in the towers on 9/11. She did not work there, but she and her husband did live a block away. She’s seen on a video camera, buying shoes at Century21, on the evening of September 10. The problem is, she did not come home that evening. When investigators began looking into her activities more closely, they discovered that this wasn’t entirely unusual — Sneha Philip often went out to bars, and sometimes spent the night at the homes of “strangers unknown to her husband.” The judge in 2006 seemed to think that as a result there wasn’t enough evidence that she was in the area — and that it’s speculation to say that she voluntarily went into the towers after the planes hit to try and help people.

The most detailed study of Ron Liberman and Sneha Philip’s story, along with evidence for and against the idea that she died in the Twin Towers on 9/11, is here, in a long article in New York magazine. I would strongly recommend reading it.

I hesitated posting on this a little, because I’m not really into gossip about people’s private miseries — Sneha Philip and Ron Philip’s Liberman’s lifestyle, and the nature of their marriage, isn’t really our concern. And the fact that Sneha Philip seems to have had some alcohol issues doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have tried to use her skills and knowledge to help people on the morning of September 11.

Two tidbits worth keeping in mind: the 9/11 victim’s fund is closed, which means there’s no financial benefit to Ron Philip or Sneha’s parents in Albany. Secondly, there’s at least one other case of someone for whom there’s no proof he was in the towers on 9/11 being included on the list — Juan Lafuente called his mother on September 8, telling her that he was starting a job three blocks from the WTC, and was never heard from again. There is no forensic or direct evidence he was there, but his name has remained on the list.

18 thoughts on “Closure for Dr. Sneha Philip, 9/11 Victim

  1. Given that this harms no -one and probably helps the family sleep (esp given the alternative was the cops version of what probably happened) few people will by be perturbed by Sneha being named as a 9/11 victim.

    The part that boggles my mind that there are articles characterizing her as a hero. I never understood how the majority of people who just the people who died in 9/11 (I am not including the firemen/policemen who died here), who did not have any hazardous jobs, or do anything of note in 9-11 can be called heroes. In the case of Sneha, whose very presence at WTC is just slightly more than speculation, the characterization is especially puzzling.

    (P.S. hate to be a pedant but, tt is Ron Liberman not Ron Phillip (Phillip retained her maiden name)

  2. 2 · mia said

    dizzydesi, why split hairs?

    Between the firemen and other people who died? or between Sneha and the other victims?

    Victims != Heroes. Coflating the two just makes the term heroes meaningless and make it impossible to honor true heroes. And as the quote goes .. any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure

    Most of the people who died did nothing extrodinary. They were in buildings that were thought to be very safe, they were going about their normal lives in ways that were not considered to be risky (normal jobs, shopping, vacationing, travelling, etc). They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time

    The policemen and the firemen put themselves in danger to save others (many of them were not even required to go the the WTC site.) Sure, they screwed up in various ways, but overall they put others before their own safety, to help others in a time of need, etc — traits that we ought to encourage as a society.

    As for Sneha Vs others who died: I figured that she could been around WTC, or could have just been another Anu Solanki with worse luck.

    Either way, you’re right, I was splitting hairs in this case. Now that the judge has ruled that she was more likely to have been killed at the WTC than other places, she deserves the same recognition as any of the other victims of the attack.

  3. Victims are heroes.

    Slightly off topic. People including children who go to see annual desi functions are referred to as delegates.

    Audience = delegates

  4. What a story that New York magazine article is! Oh, my, my! I have bookmarked it, and will invoke next time my mommy tries to pawn off an MD on me that I don’t fancy! ;-)

  5. Ron…. LOL.. M.D. after one’s name does not make that person more righteous or knowledgeable. It’s waaaaay too overated in our culture… Frankly, I am so tired of most Indian parents pushing the “she/he is a doctor…GREAT match”. (sorry I totally went off topic)

  6. A bit off-topic, but there’s another 9/11-related story with a desi angle datelined today that really shocked me:

    Indian gets 15 years in jail for embezzling 9/11 funds

    An Indian-origin former high-ranking officer has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by a court in New York for siphoning off government money to the tune of $9 million, most of which was intended to help identify victims of 9/11 terror attacks, and stashing it away in India. Natarajan R Venkataram, 43, was also ordered to pay $2.97 million in restitution and forfeiture by Manhattan federal court’s District Judge Robert P Patterson.
  7. 5 · rob said

    I have bookmarked it, and will invoke next time my mommy tries to pawn off an MD on me that I don’t fancy!

    Oh, c’mon rob. Of course she want you to marry a Managing Director. You you be happy with just a VP?

  8. The part that boggles my mind that there are articles characterizing her as a hero

    This might be why:

    “Sneha Philip often went out to bars, and sometimes spent the night at the homes of “strangers unknown to her husband.”

  9. Frankly, I am so tired of most Indian parents pushing the “she/he is a doctor…GREAT match”.

    When you draw your conclusions based on set A, but neglect set B, set C, and set D, you end up with erroneous conclusions.

  10. HMF, I knew someone was gonna go there… Notice, I said “MOST Indian parents”….I have yet to hear “Oh my gosh, you found a Doctor to marry????? OVER MY DEAD BODY???” LOL. Yea there are “sets B,C….X,Y,Z” that have common sense and focus on the character of a person. But I am basing my statement on GENERAL KNOWLEDGE w/i our community that being a Doctor and marrying a Doctor enhances one’s status and thus parents either influence their children’s decision to become a doctor or marry one!!!!

  11. Notice, I said “MOST Indian parents”….I have yet to hear “Oh my gosh, you found a Doctor to marry????? OVER MY DEAD BODY???” LOL.

    Relax. I’m agreeing with you. Take a deep breath. I’m saying these parents have tunnel vision and see doctors as the only successful people on the face of the earth.

    As for heroes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbyIsG22dHM

  12. This is a tough one. I would err towards adding her to the 9/11 victim’s list, but I can understand the heartburn re: making her out to be a hero. Not because of the alleged promiscuity, I’m sure many of the confirmed heros of that day also stepped out on their SOs, but simply because there is no solid proof she died that way.

    Were her alleged extramarital hookups with women? If they were that seems to make a violent end at the hand’s of a lover seem less likely (not based on any stats, just my intuition)

  13. She may have led a double life. BUt it looks like whatever double life she led wasn’t that discrete. So I find it very puzzling they they could no uncover a single person to provide any kind of info on her whereabouts the prior evening or the monring of 9-11. Did they all die too? I doubt she took the trouble to cover her tracks? What about that 30 something possibly Indian female friend she was with at the store? They can’t go back to her old cellphone records and track down every aquaintance via her friends?

    I don’t think she should be on the 9-11 list because there is simply no confirmation. THough the security cam of a lady who looks like her in the apartment building prior to the tragedy was interesting to note. What if she just did not feel like going in for whatever reason, and while walking out , she heard about 9-11 and consistent with her adventurous personality, she decided to check out the site herself to see if she can help out in whateever way.

    As far as heroes vs victims, she is a hero if she went to the site because she probably went to help out as a doctor. I doubt she had a meeting scheduled and just happened to be a victim if she did die there.

    It’s too bad the brother and husband come out with stories so conflicting with the police account of some things and the family is in denial. Makes finding the truth even tougher.

  14. This is a sordid story indeed. I’m still on the fence. People “disappear” everyday in this country. However usually they are connected to the Mob and/or lead a very elaborate double life that eventually outs them. It’s been nearly 7 years….

    FYI the compensation fund was closed for claims from people who had confirmation on the death of their loved ones in the WTC. This would be an exception that would be honored if the fund chooses to because she wasn’t until now and is now officially a victim her family is eligible. We are talking $3-$4 million here.

    The fund is still open for anyone experiencing sickness or has died from lung related diseases.

  15. This would be an exception that would be honored if the fund chooses to because she wasn’t until now and is now officially a victim her family is eligible. We are talking $3-$4 million here.

    That nailed it.

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