Found bracelet honoring September 11 firefighter brings families together

Jonathan Otten now keeps the bracelet bearing his father's name on his bedroom dresser.

Story highlights

  • Bracelet honoring fallen 9/11 firefighter is found 10 years after it was lost
  • It was found by Marlene Quinn, who was mourning the death her brother, a volunteer firefighter
  • She returned it to Marion Otten, whose husband perished in the Twin Towers collapse
  • Otten: "Things happen for a reason. I see it as a sign"
A worn metal bracelet inscribed with the name of a fallen 9/11 firefighter washed up 10 days ago on the shores of New York's Robert Moses State Park. As the surf rolled away from her feet, Marlene Quinn picked it up.
For Quinn, it was more than a serendipitous find.
She was walking on the beach, she says, "praying for peace and comfort" months after the sudden death of her 62-year-old brother, Michael O'Neill, a volunteer firefighter and captain on Long Island.
The fallen firefighter remembered on the weathered bracelet also was named Michael.
"Michael J. Otten," the inscription read. "F.D.N.Y. LADDER 35 9/11/01."
Quinn remembered the Otten name, she said. He was the only person from her town who perished when the Twin Towers fell.
"God works in mysterious ways," Quinn recalled.
Quinn tracked down an address for Otten's family. They live less than a mile away in East Islip, one block from where Quinn and her late brother grew up. She put the bracelet in the mail, along with a note.
"I knew they needed it and I thought it was my brother coming through," Quinn said. "There is another firefighter in heaven."
When the bracelet arrived, Otten's widow, Marion, didn't even know it was missing, she said.
Her son Jonathan had worn it in honor of his father. He lost it on the beach nearly a decade ago, when he was 11 or so.
"Things happen for a reason," Marion Otten says. "I see it as a sign."
Jonathan Otten now keeps the bracelet on his bedroom dresser. He's afraid to lose it again, she said.
"It's another tie to his dad and the department," Marion Otten said.
Jonathan Otten and his brother Christopher are both on the list to become New York City firefighters, their mother said. That would make four generations of the family in the FDNY.
"It's in their blood," she said.
Marion Otten and Quinn met for the first time the other day.
Quinn recalled the "joy and comfort" Marion Otten seemed to feel at getting the bracelet back.
"We have a connection, I feel," said Marion Otten, who will visit her late husband's firehouse on the 9/11 anniversary Thursday.