9/11 victim’s daughter finally hears her dad’s voice 20 years after his death

Exclusive:

Daniel Lee’s daughter Allison was born two days after he died while flying home to LA on American Airlines Flight 11, which was hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center

Allison Lee with her mum Kellie, who gave birth to her daughter two days after her husband’s death (Image: Photo Copyright John Chapple / www.JohnChapple.com)

 

 

The 9/11 attacks silenced the ­father of Allison Lee just two days before her birth but nearly 20 years on she has managed to hear how he sounded after her mum found ­footage of him singing in a band.

The poignant moment comes as the dancer and choreographer – the first of dozens of babies born to pregnant widows of the 2001 atrocity – turns 20.

Daniel Lee, a roadie for Backstreet Boys, Neil Diamond, ­Aerosmith, Janet Jackson and REO Speedwagon, was 34 years old when he boarded American Airlines Flight 11 to LA to be home for the birth of his second child.

The plane was hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing all 92 on board.

In total, 2,977 people were killed, 19 hijackers died and more than 6,000 others were injured in the September 11 attacks. Wife Kellie, who gave birth on September 13, paid tribute to him by naming their newborn Allison Danielle.

Allison, who is planning to have a tattoo with her dad’s initials, said: “In the last couple of months I’ve heard my dad sing and my dad play for the very first time. Mum found some old cassette and video tapes and put it on a flash drive.

 

 

 

 

Mirrorman Andy Lines with Allison and Kellie in Las Vegas
(Image:

Photo Copyright John Chapple / www.JohnChapple.com)

 

 

 

 

“The band was called Driving Force and I really loved their music.

“That was the first time I’d heard him and it was pretty cool. And I also saw videos of Mum and Dad water-skiing together that was lovely to watch.

“I’d only seen their wedding video so it was lovely seeing them doing something normal as
a couple.”

The Mirror caught up with Allison and her mum at their home in a suburb of Las Vegas.

Daniel Lee was a roadie for the Backstreet Boys and other bands
(Image:

Splash News)

Kellie added: “Some of the guys from Driving Force are still in touch with me which is lovely.”

Allison was around ten years old when she started to realise what had happened to her dad after Osama bin Laden, who plotted 9/11, was killed by US Special Forces on May 2, 2011.

She said: “I didn’t really understand until around that time. That’s when I started to understand what really happened to my dad.

“I’ve actually decided I’m going to get a tattoo in the next month or so. It will have my dad’s initials, DJL, over my heart with a pair of angel wings.

 

Daniel died after Flight 11 was hijacked by terrorists on September 11
(Image:

LA Times)

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while and I’m going to do it as a tribute to him.”

She was studying dance at a college in Los Angeles when Covid-19 hit and has temporarily returned home where she is working as a choreographer and part-time for adidas on the famous strip.

Allison, who has performed in European cities as a dancer, added: “One of dad’s friends opened a door for me recently in the music ­business.

“It was great to think that 20 years after he died someone cared about him so much that they tried to help me out. The anniversary is always tough for me. He seems like a really cool guy and I wish I had the chance to meet him.

 

 

 

 

The smouldering remains of the Twin Towers after the attack
(Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

“On my 20th birthday I will be ­celebrating with friends at Universal Studios horror nights.”

Her sister Amanda, 22, is also living in Vegas and is a photographer.

Sitting in the kitchen of their home, tearful Kellie, now 52, recalled the harrowing days surrounding the birth.

She said: “It was a planned C-section and I had been given the choice of a date between September 9 and 16. I’ve always thought – why didn’t I choose the 9th – then Dan would have been home safely before 9/11 – that’s always upset and ­bothered me.

“I chose the 14th as it was my dad’s birthday but the doctor forgot and I ended up with the 13th.

“And the Backstreet Boys, who he was working for at the time, had to delay their tour because one of the members went into rehab.

 

 

 

 

Kellie pictured with her daughter Allison just after she was delivered in 2001
(Image:

Splash)

“I’ve often thought that if that tour hadn’t been put back, hadn’t been delayed then Dan would never have been in Boston and would still be with us.”

Kellie, who was with Daniel for 10 years and married for six, said: “I remember getting cards saying congratulations on the birth of your daughter and condolence on the death of your husband.”

She recalled what ­happened on the morning of 9/11 at the couple’s Californian home in Van Nuys in Los Angeles. “I woke up and Dan had already died – his plane had already hit the Towers but I didn’t know. That’s always upset me… even all this time later,” she said.

“I remember putting a video on of The Wiggles, a children’s show, for Amanda. I was getting ready to go and pick Dan up from the plane at LAX. He was due in at 11am.

“Then the phone rang and it was Dan’s sister calling from ­Sacramento. She told me what had happened.

 

“Quickly it was all one big blur. People started arriving at the house. One of Dan’s friends was a chef and I remember him turning up in a big white chef’s hat.

“We had a memorial service for him in Sherman Oaks. I stood in line for over four hours greeting people as so many came to pay their respects.’

Kellie remarried in 2005 to
Chris Riordan and she is
immensely proud of both her daughters and Chris’s role in their upbringing.

Kellie, who is writing her first novel and is a songwriter, said: “Dan was a very talented and creative man. He was a drummer and worked as a stage carpenter for many groups including the Backstreet Boys and Aerosmith.

“He would be so proud of Amanda and Allison – they’ve done so well.

“He knew we were having another girl and had been joking about having the ‘Lee sisters’ and how we were going to take them around the world.”

Kellie will not be at the Ground Zero 20th ceremony in New York on Saturday, where victims of the four coordinated terrorist attacks in the US will be honoured.

She chooses to remember her husband in a different way.

Kellie said: “We always go to one of Dan’s favourite restaurants. We bring photos and celebrate his life and commemorate his memory. It’s always a special evening.

“We usually go to Island Hamburgers but since the Covid-19 pandemic they’ve closed down the only restaurant in Las Vegas.

“So we’re going to ­Benihana – his second favourite restaurant.”

She added, smiling: “We will remember happier times.”

Leave a Comment