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Woman searching for group who bonded together on 9/11, driving from Omaha to Denver

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Posted at 5:42 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 20:30:50-04

DENVER — Most remember where they were and what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001.

Emilio Martinez was on a flight from Ohio back to his home in Denver when word of the attacks grounded all flights in the country.

Emilio Martinez, who died in 2016, would embark on a journey back home upon deplaning.

At the brink of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Emilio Martinez' daughter, Mercedes Martinez, is searching for the group that would go on that journey with her father.

"We always talk about this amongst my family this time every year," said Mercedes Martinez, a TV and radio host in Las Vegas.

But this time, Mercedes Martinez posted her father's story on Twitter, asking in the thread, "Did my dad help you on September 11, 2001?"

It has since gone viral, garnering more than 60,000 and nearly 25,000 retweets less than 24 hours later.

On 9/11, Emilio Martinez' flight to Denver diverted to the closest airport, which was Omaha.

"He got off the plane, went straight to the rental car company and he got this big white van that seated [seven people]."

Then, it was straight back to the airport. Emilio Martinez stood outside the terminal with a piece of cardboard that said "GOING TO DENVER" in big block letters.

"People started noticing him and asking if he was really going that way and that's when he explained 'I have seven extra seats. Whoever wants to come, we'll get you home,' and he filled those seats," Mercedes Martinez said.

Seven strangers mourned the worst attack on American soil together, desperate to get back to their families in Denver.

Mercedes Martinez hopes her social media posts would help her find those individuals.

"That's kind of my purpose in sending out this Tweet. I want to know more about the journey from Omaha to Denver because I don't know much about it," Mercedes Martinez said.

Those who were there that day couldn't forget. In fact, one woman reached out to Mercedes Martinez with a message from her mother.

"Hi, my mom remembers your dad at that Omaha airport. She didn't need a ride since she was local, but she remembered him offering rides. She always talked about it when talking about about 911 and thought that was so selfless and what a wonderful person he must be. We are all proud of him. I just shared your tweets with my mom and she cried remembering."

Emilio Martinez was just trying to get back to his family. Seven others were, too. He didn't charge them a single dime and dropped them all off at their doorstep.

An eight hour drive among perfect strangers will always be part of these families' Sept. 11 memory.

For 500 miles and eight hours, the group was all they had.