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Keeping her legacy alive: Daughter of 9/11 officer honors mom she never knew

FLATIRON DISTRICT, Manhattan — When Patricia Smith and her father James Smith walk through a Madison Square Park playground, they say they're filled with pride.

"I didn't have my mom all of my life obviously," Patricia Smith told PIX11. "I feel like there's a little part of her watching from above, that she's making sure the little kids are safe in this playground."

This playground is named after Moira Smith, the lone woman among 23 NYPD first responders killed during the terrorist attack on 9/11.

Officer Smith saved hundreds of lives in a panicked stairwell inside the south tower minutes before it collapsed.

"She was a person who gave her life because she knew she'd be making a difference," Moira's husband, retired NYPD officer James Smith said. "She made sure other people got to go home to their families that day."

One of those people is insurance executive Ed Nicholls.

He was one of the last people to see Officer Moira Smith alive.

Nicholls was in the sky lobby on the 78th floor when the second plane crashed into the south tower.

"The next thing you know it's all black," Ed Nicholls told PIX11. "People who died were all over the floor. Fires started. Absolute chaos.," he added.

Somehow an injured Nicholls was able to get down 78 floors and was then helped by officer Smith to a waiting ambulance.

While Nicholls doesn't like to talk about that horrific day, 15 years later, he feels it is important to remember the sacrifices made by police officers like Smith who was just 38 years old and the mother of a toddler.

"I'd like people to remember what happened and to honor the people who lost their lives that day and not forget about it," Nicholls said. "I want to have the people who did lose loved ones to know there are people who are still thinking about them and hoping they're okay."

Moira Smith also touched the life of Marty Glynn. He wrote a letter to her precinct the day after she perished and set up a tribute page thanking her for saving his life.

Glynn, who worked on the 84th floor, was being evacuated from the south tower when he thought he might pass out from witnessing the carnage of falling bodies in the plaza.

"I moved my head to look over to see the plaza," Glynn told PIX11. "At that moment she moved her head to block me. When she did that, her whole demeanor changed. No longer typical police officer. A tremor in her voice, she says 'don't look.' We had this intense eye contact. I got out with 10 minutes to spare."

Now both of these men who saw Officer Moira Smith in the last minutes of her life take great comfort in knowing that the two-year-old daughter she left behind has grown into a lovely young woman 15 years later whose heroic mother is always with her.

"She's not there but she's still there if that makes sense," Smith said. "She's kind of always watching over me. I have pictures of her everywhere. I look like her. I can't not think of her. It's nice. She's there with me all the time."