posted on Sep, 19 2007 @ 03:17 PM
Since 9/11 just passed. I thought I'd post this story I saw.
Towers OF Terror
As we approach the anniversary of the worst attack in American history, I feel the need to reflect back on the events of that day and how I managed to
survive. I haven’t discussed it for the past six years so I thought that maybe it was time to try and share my thoughts once again. As I began to
write this, I realized that if I were to share every detail that occurred during my egress, this story would be far longer than it already is. There
were other stairwell changes that were required because of the building design, accesses during my journey that were only possible due to the actions
of others prior to my arrival and sightings of firemen and others who are not relevant to my story. So I won’t bore you with all of the minute
details. The media does enough of that for everyone. In addition, I am nobody. So what I was doing there and exactly where I was is unimportant. I
just want to share my story.
It was 8:45 a.m. on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was in the north tower for a prearranged meeting. As far as I was concerned. It was an
uneventful start to a normal day. I had wanted to eat at Windows On The World but it was a little too noisy for me. Some kind of conference. So I had
come back down and was sitting in a chair staring out the window at the morning sky. I remember thinking about the stories I had read as a kid on
skyscrapers and how dangerous it was for the workers. The winds were so strong that they could pick a man up and blow him away. Yet as I sat there
some hundred floors up, I could not help but notice how serene it looked.
Did I notice the plane that eventually turned out to be Flight 11? Yes I did. Did I think anything was unusual? No I didn’t. I know the media is
full of stories told by people who just knew something was wrong the moment they saw that plane. They are usually the same ones who knew the guy next
door was a serial killer too. No the fact is that no one had a clue what was about to happen. Not even me. It was only as the plane drew closer to the
building that I began to realize something was wrong. I got up and moved to the window, watching this object get larger on the skyline until
eventually, it was as large as life. It’s funny how speed is a matter of perception. Whenever I see a video of the plane hitting that tower, it
looks like it’s moving so slowly. Yet from my perspective, it appeared to move faster and faster the closer it got. Within the last few hundred
yards, I was looking down at nothing more than a blur.
As the plane closed in I felt the building vibrate. I imagine it was the shockwave of air that preceded the actual impact. Almost like it was
anticipating the hit and exploded just to get it out of the way. There was a howling whistle, then the plane struck the building. The floor beneath me
shook . Actually, reverberated would be a more accurate description. Kind of like when you clip a baseball wrong with a metal bat. It vibrates,
dissipates for a second and then comes back for one more round. I could feel the building swaying and the floor felt like it was buckling. Then
suddenly a violent smoky fireball shot up in front of the glass Some of the panels cracked. I jumped back, startled at what I had seen. It was clear
to me what had happened yet, it would not compute for a moment or two. The lights flickered then returned. As people began chattering and milling
towards the windows, I was backing away. I was afraid the glass would shatter and I had no wish to be sucked out. As smoke obscured the windows, I
finally began to hear people talking. They were discussing the possibility of an earthquake. Then someone who had seen what happened said a plane lost
control and hit the building. I did not know exactly what was going on. All I knew was that the plane was definitely flying in a straight line.
The shock had finally worn off. I had to leave and now. I did not know what was going to happen, I only knew that whatever it was…it was going to be
bad. I started to run to the stairwell. Then I stopped and turned around. No one was moving. Some were staring out the windows. Others were talking.
Most in classic American style already had their cell phones out, wanting to be the first one who called 911. I yelled, “We need to get to the
stairs!“ I began to hear people say, “Do you think we should?“ “Maybe we should wait.“ I just turned and kept going. As I reached the door,
a man came through. Don’t know what he was doing in the stairwell. May have been security. Doesn’t really matter. Smoke burst into the hallway. He
said, “Everything’s on fire.” I replied, “We have to get out of here now.” He coughed back, “We can‘t.”
By this time a few people had approached the stairs. I said to the man, “What do you mean we can‘t?” He replied, “The stairway’s blocked.”
People began to gasp and chatter. I looked at him and asked, “What do you mean blocked? Is it damaged? Is it gone? How is it blocked?” He looked
at me and said, “There’s nothing but smoke and fire down there.“ I said, “Smoke and fire doesn‘t necessarily mean it‘s impassable. Did you
see any damage.” “I couldn‘t see anything.” he replied..
By this point the floor was filling with smoke. Someone ran up and said that people were injured by the elevators and smoke was coming in through the
every door vent. I turned and said, “Smoke travels up and fire travels up and down. We have to go now. Get something to cover your faces.“ Then I
heard glass crashing. They were breaking windows to let air in. They had just exasperated the problem. Then a lady says, “He said the stairwell is
blocked.“ Then others began to chatter. “Yeah, we can’t get through.“ “We should wait.” “Maybe we should go up to the roof. They’ll
rescue us” There was no point in arguing and there was no more time. I looked at everyone and said, “I’m going….now. And I’m not waiting for
you. If I’m not back in ten minutes, that means the stairwell is passable. If it is I would highly suggest you leave.” The man grabbed my sleeve
and said, “I can’t let you go down there. It’s too dangerous.“ I leaned over and said, “Let go of me or smoke inhalation will be the least
of your worries.“ On that note, I covered my face with my jacket and left.
The stairwell was filled with hot black and grey smoke. Not a regular smoke either. More like a dusty one. I could hear fires burning below. It
smelled kind of like the old furnace we had in my childhood home. I had no idea what jet fuel smelled like but I assumed that‘s what it was. Those
fires, however, would be getting worse very soon since they had broken the windows on the floors above. As I passed the 97th floor, the heat became
incredible. There were intermittent shudders as if the building were straining under it’s own weight. To be truthful, I expected there to be far
more fire than I encountered. I guess in the initial minutes that had passed, the majority of the fuel had burned off leaving only the building to
consume itself. The sprinklers did not appear to be working. It was at this point of the journey downward where I had the most trouble breathing. The
smoke was worse yes, but it felt as if I couldn’t get any air in my lungs no matter how hard I tried.
When I reached the 95th floor, the situation became even more desperate. One side of the stairwell wall was gone and the other was crumbling. The
superstructure was exposed. I was being hit with a hot vacuum like wind that agitated the smoke into a swirling frenzy. It was surreal. The portion of
the stairs that remained were minimal and treacherous. They were approximately eight inches wide and several steps deep, running along one edge of the
wall. It was like something you’d see in a Hollywood movie. I knew if there was any chance that was it. Holding onto the railing, I slowly inched my
way step by step, until I finally cleared the gap. That was, unfortunately, not the only hurdle to overcome. There was another such precipice on what
was either the 93rd or 92nd floor. The only part of the stairwell left there was the railing itself. I grappled for dear life as my leather soled
shoes slipped on the railing. The smoke was thick and I gasped for every breath. I had to keep going. I could not see very much from the 97th to the
92nd floors other than there wasn‘t much left. I expected to see the hulking remains of a plane somewhere. There was nothing but twisted metal and
concrete. What I did see made me wonder how many people had died and worse yet, what was holding the building up. One thing was certain. I did not
have much time. An eternity later I was safe on the next landing. I knew it had been at least ten minutes since I left the others. I said to myself,
“Well it ain’t sexy but it’s passable. I hope they‘re coming” I knew that not everyone would be able to cross, but I did hope they would at
least try. I knew they wouldn’t though. Sadly people don’t lead, they follow. Unfortunately, it was apparent the mob mentality had taken over and
without direction, all would be lost.
Once I had cleared the 91st floor, things got a little bit easier. I say that meaning I wasn’t having to Indiana Jones it anymore. The temperature
was lower. The smoke, however, was still thick and breathing was difficult. Dangerous chunks of steel and metal were falling down the stairwell. Smoke
was continuing to rise from below me as I descended. Fire was coming out of doors that looked like they had been blown off the hinges. I stayed as far
against the wall as I could. Fortunately for me, I regularly ran marathons, so I was able to traverse the floors very quickly. As I descended, I was
surprised that the stairwell was devoid of people. I couldn’t imagine why no one was using it. I had started down late though. Someone had to have
survived. They were probably ahead of me. I continued running as fast as I could. I wasn’t keeping track of the floors I was passing. Several floors
down, I finally saw another human being. A man in his 40s. He was dead but didn‘t appear to have any injuries. I assumed he died from smoke
inhalation or a heart attack. I noticed a cellular phone on his belt. I did not have mine with me that day. I took it just in case then continued
I switched staircases at the 44th floor sky lobby. This one was not as dangerous as the one I had left, but it was dangerous nonetheless. Although
safer, the smoke was beginning to overcome me. I couldn’t go on the way I was. My jacket was dirty, soaking wet and impossible to breathe through
anymore. I had to find something to help me continue. I had not come this far to die now. A floor or two down from the lobby, The air quality was
better so I decided this would be a good place to stop. I came across a door that was open. It led into what looked like a huge equipment room. I only
had moments before I needed to move on. Feverishly I searched, looking for anything that I could use. There was various equipment, some boxes, a few
50 gallon drums. Nothing useful. Then I found it. A discarded paper mask that a drywall guy would use. The elastic band was snapped off. I looked over
by the drums and noticed a piece of electronic equipment on the column. There were several of them around the room, but this one was different. I
guess the block of grey epoxy they used to put it there didn’t stick right so they had duct taped it to the post. I pulled it down, removed the tape
and used it to hold the mask on. Ready to go I continued on.
As I re-entered the stairwell, I couldn’t help but wonder how there could still be any smoke. No fire mind you, smoke coming from below. I would
soon find out what happened in the lobby. I continued my rapid descent. Some floors had smoke coming out of them, some did not. Then the building
began to shake violently again. I actually slipped and fell as it tossed me around. Outside the south tower had just fallen. The lights went out. I
got back up. Now I was in a panic. I couldn’t see a damn thing. Then the emergency lights came on. I ran down those stairs, two or three at a time.
The building was creaking and moaning. I have never heard anything like that before. I was certain it would come down any minute.
As I approached the lower floors I finally encountered people who were still evacuating. I guess I had caught up with them. We continued down, but the
progression had slowed. As we came closer to the lobby level, the smoke became choking. The sprinklers were operating on the lower levels but it was
more like a flood than a sprinkle. The water pooled ankle deep at some points. As we exited the stairwell, the scene was unbelievable. The beautiful
lobby I had entered through had become a war zone. All the glass had been blown out, there was debris everywhere and other things I won’t mention. I
could barely see. The air was filled with choking dust that had settled on the floor several inches deep. The others stopped for a moment like they
were on a sight seeing tour. I did not care. I followed a fireman and ran as fast as I could out of the building. I don’t even know what street I
came out on. When I reached the outside there was pandemonium. Then I realized the other tower was gone. I immediately began running as fast and as
far away from there as I possibly could.
The thing I did notice was the people. As I moved away, they were coming closer. Like some sick voyeurs coming to see the bodies. I was on the side of
the WTC that was very open. Based on where I was. I only knew one thing for sure. When that second one came down, the fallout would follow the path of
least resistance and they would more than likely be killed. But to be honest, their stupidity was not my problem. I was done trying to help people. So
I continued to run. I put as much distance between myself and that building as was humanly possible. As I learned later that area has been nicknamed
the black zone. The majority of the second collapse spilled into that corridor, killing most of the people there.
I never saw the second tower collapse. I only heard and felt it. Even then, I kept running. I covered a little over a mile before I finally collapsed.
I fell to my knees and threw up. But even as the brown bile spilled from my burning throat, all I cared about was the fact I was alive.
I somehow managed to get a cab if you can believe that. All I wanted to do was go home. Fortunately I didn’t have to cross any bridges. As the taxi
took me on the best ride I had ever been on. I heard a phone ring. I looked down and realized it was the phone I had taken off the stranger in the
stairwell. I don’t know why but I answered it. “Xxx. Are you there? Oh my God are you alright? I just saw the news. Hello? Xxx?” I couldn’t
say anything. I just pressed the end button and turned it off.