“Thank you, Chief Trucillo, for being there when we needed you most and for making us feel like members of the Port Authority family.”
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Christopher Trucillo was in Atlantic City on a two-day work summit. He was joined by his team of Port Authority police personnel.
Just before 9 a.m., their beepers started to go off. Something was wrong.
When they learned that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center, Christopher said, “We knew instantly that this was not an accident.”
His unit immediately left New Jersey and drove directly back to New York City.
“I don’t think anything could have prepared us for that day,” Christopher said.
He and his team spent the next 18 months working 12-hour days.
“We did not have to force anyone to work. Everyone was willing. Everyone had their minds and their hearts at the 9/11 site,” he said.
Christopher Trucillo was sworn in as chief of police for the Port Authority Police Department on Feb. 6, 2004.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Christopher made it his mission to mobilize a group from his unit to provide assistance to the family members of Port Authority police officers and commanders killed on that tragic day.
To this day, he continues to be a liaison to those family members.
The Port Authority Police Department lost two percent of its members that day.
David Lemagne, a 27-year-old police officer, was one of the victims.
“My little brother loved to work,” his sister, Magaly Lemagne, said. “When he first got the job, he reassured us with, ‘Don’t worry mom, I’m probably gonna be directing traffic.’”
For years, David had been volunteering with the Union City Ambulance Service, becoming a certified EMT his sophomore year of high school; then, going on to work for the Jersey City Medical Center as an EMT post-graduation. In 2001, he segued into the Port Authority Police Department.
“He was always so proud of that job,” Magaly remembers.
David was working four jobs when he passed away while attempting to rescue the victims trapped in the World Trade Center that day. He had been a Port Authority officer for just nine months.
That morning, David’s early shift was over in New Jersey. Even when his family could not immediately reach him once they learned of the attacks, they had assumed that he was safe.
“I should have known David would make it his business to be at the World Trade Center site,” Magaly said. “He was always a hero.”
The last known picture of David shows him carrying a woman on what appears to be a door. The sun shines directly on David as he works to pull this woman to safety.
“They say that mothers feel things. My mother says she felt a sharp pain in her chest that morning.” The family thinks that this was the moment David died.
“It’s the worst feeling,” Magaly said. “[When you] can’t do anything to help your parents.”
In the weeks following the attacks, Magaly spent many days down at Ground Zero.
“I remember staring down at that gaping hole and thinking: ‘They’re never going to find him.’”
It took four months for the Lemagne family to be reunited with David’s remains. On a cool winter morning in January 2002, David’s body was found.
And that’s how Magaly came to know Christopher Trucillo.
Chief Trucillo led the Port Authority Police Department through a difficult period in the aftermath of Sept. 11. His team saw a transition from a transit police force to an anti-terror force.
“It was very important for us to make sure that we did everything we could for the families,” he remembers. “You always do what you need to do for others.”
To this day, Trucillo keeps in contact with the Lemagne family -- in honor of their fallen brother, David.
“He has always made us feel like a member of the Port Authority family,” Magaly said.
Read Magaly's letter below: