ok, guys, nothing worked. my IT guy said that when he'd hooked up the hd to his computer as a secondary drive, the drive itself showed but contained no data, that is no system, no home directory, nothing. he mentioned something about the data tree having been completely disrupted, if not to say destroyed. meaning he wasn't able to see any contents and thus not recover anything.
he said he thinks the comp must have caught a virus that destroyed the binary structure and the comp can't put the 1s and the 0s together. in his opinion the only thing to do is to format the drive, the data are lost.
I'm hoping that a trusted tech out there can tell me he's wrong.