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It is one of the most horrifying images from a day of horrors: Richard The man who fell to earth Drew's photograph of a man in white jacket and black pants hurtling headfirst from the upper floors of the World Trade Center's north tower on Sept. 11.

It is also a private image, one many people felt should not be shown on television and in newspapers. Until now, though, no one really knew to whom it was private.

This week, Globe and Mail writer Peter Cheney, reporting from the rubble of New York, found himself caught in an chain of coincidence that led to meeting a woman who says the falling man was her son, Norberto Hernandez.

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She and her family told Mr. Cheney the man's story, and asked him to tell it to the world.

They told him that Mr. Hernandez was a pastry chef at Windows on the World, the toney restaurant on the 107th floor of Number One World Trade Center. He had just found a better post at another eatery, and Tuesday was to be his last day on the job.

Mr. Hernandez's sister Milagros says many in the family felt a shock of recognition run through them when they first saw the photo. "I didn't want it to be him," says his brother, Tino. "But in my heart I knew it was."

They describe him as a "humble, humble man," so trustworthy that they nicknamed him "Bible." A few months ago, he told one of his sisters that if he ever got caught in a burning building, he would jump rather than die in the flames.

The full story of Norberto Hernandez, as told to Peter Cheney, appears exclusively on page 2 of today's Focus section.

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