PORTLAND (AP) – A Portland woman’s family plans to file a claim with the federal government’s Victim Compensation Fund for the death of her father in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks two years ago.

Elaine Farrally-Plourde’s father, Charles Lesperance, was crushed in the rubble when one of the World Trade Center towers toppled over following the attacks. Farrally-Plourde, 33, lived in California at the time.

She says she intends to file a claim with the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which was created by the U.S. Senate following the attacks. The fund has made payouts of between $250,000 and $6.5 million – the average being $1.5 million – to families of those killed in the terrorist attacks.

“We really had a lot of problems getting stuff together,” said Farrally-Plourde.

“I can’t really explain it. Getting over it and dealing with it has really been very hard.”

About 3,000 people died in the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and aboard an airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania. The compensation fund is designed to help the victims’ families.

Making a claim against the compensation fund precludes families from taking other legal action. With the Dec. 22 deadline to file a claim approaching, less than half the victims’ families have made claims against the fund.

It is unknown how many, if any, claims have been paid to Mainers whose family members died in the attacks.

Farrally-Plourde said she last talked to her father by phone a few days before the terrorist attacks. He said he was shopping for a discount plane ticket to California so he could visit her, and he bragged about his season tickets to New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Lesperance worked as an analyst for New York City’s transportation planning agency, with an office on the 82nd floor of the World Trade Center.

On the morning of Sept. 11, Farrally-Plourde received a call from her mother telling her about the attack. Even after her father’s office tower collapsed, she was not worried.

“We were convinced that he was injured or traumatized,” she said. “When a week went by and he wasn’t found, I knew it didn’t look good.”

Three weeks after the attack, Lesperance’s body was identified. Last seen on the 82nd floor helping an injured co-worker, Lesperance made it outside the building, only to be killed when the tower collapsed.

The events of Sept. 11 changed Farrally-Plourde’s life forever. She and her husband had lived California, but moved to Portland, his hometown, shortly after the attacks.

“We came back three weeks after it happened,” she said. “Something just didn’t feel right out there. We wanted to be closer to our families, we wanted to see people.”

Lesperance’s claim will be filed by Portland attorney Jeffrey Thaler, who has volunteered his services. Thaler said the terrorist attacks hit close to home for him. He was in Boston’s Logan Airport with his son two hours after the hijackers boarded planes that they later crashed.

“I felt that it was something a good lawyer should do for someone in need,” Thaler said.

AP-ES-09-04-03 1046EDT



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.