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Cantor CEO pledges profits to victims' families

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald pledged Wednesday to give 25-percent of his bond-trading firm's profits to the relatives of the more than 700 employees missing since last week's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

Howard Lutnick told CNN's Larry King Live that he was late to work on the day of the September 11 attacks because he was dropping his 5-year-old son off for the boy's first day of kindergarten.

As Lutnick, 40, was leaving the school, he got a call.

"They said the building was hit by a plane," Canter said. "I was thinking it was sort of like a small, like a Piper Cub."

But as he drove down the West Side Highway, the bond trader with a reputation for being a tough businessman could see smoke.

"I just had to get down there as fast as I could ... to make sure my people were getting out," he said.

When he arrived, people were exiting One World Trade Center, where the company occupied floors 101-105.

"I'd grab them as they went by and ask, 'What floor are you on? What floor are you on?' "

What he did not know was that his employees had had their escape route cut off by the fire that erupted when the plane sliced through the building a few floors below.

Among those at the firm was Lutnick's brother, Gary, who worked for the company on the 103rd floor.

Lutnick learned that his brother had called his sister and told her "he wasn't going to make it and the smoke was coming in and things were bad and he called and said good-bye and that he loved her and for her to tell me that he, that he loved me."

Asked what he has told his son, Lutnick said, through tears, "My wife has a brother named Gary, too. So he always had two Uncle Garys. I told him he only has one Uncle Gary. The other Uncle Gary got hurt at work and he can't come over any more."

His employees, many of whom were in their 30s, had a total of more than 1,500 children.

Since last Tuesday, Lutnick said, his days have been filled with funerals and wakes and calls from many of his workers' wives.

"They call me and they say, 'How come you can't pay my salary? Why can't you pay my husband's salary? Other companies pay their [dead and missing employees'] salary, why can't you?'

"But, you see, I lost, I lost everybody in the company, so I can't pay their salary. They think we're doing something wrong. I can't pay their salaries," Lutnick said, again dissolving into tears.

"I don't have any money to pay their salaries." Asked what Americans could do to help, he said, "If every money manager of a pension fund just gave us a little bit of business, then maybe we'll survive."

The company is now working out of a small office on Park Avenue in Midtown and in two sites in New Jersey, Lutnick said.

• Cantor, Tradespark, eSpeed Emergency Information Center
• American Red Cross
• Federal Emergency Management Agency

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