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Accounts From the North Tower
The New York Times ^ | May 26, 2002

Posted on 05/25/2002 4:37:27 PM PDT by sarcasm

Following are accounts from survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center's North Tower and the friends and relatives of the victims. Accounts from the South Tower can be found here.

Steven Jacobson, victim
Portraits of Grief: A Transmitter Marvel

Steven Jacobson was a transmitter engineer for WPIX-TV and had an office on the 110th floor of the north tower, just below the station's rooftop antenna. When the first plane hit that tower, a friend and colleague at WPIX, Victor J. Arnone, called twice from the station to see how he was doing. This is his account:

I punched in his extension. I said, "Steve are you O.K.?" I was shocked the phone lines were still working. He said,`` It's getting hot up here. What happened?'' I told him to get one of the one air packs we had. After the 1993 bombing, we got these air packs. They're the same kind that the coal miners use when they need air while they wait to be rescued. They give you like five hours of air.

The second conversation was just after the second plane hit. I said ``They're terrorists. They hit the other tower. Try to get to the roof.'' But he said, ``It's too hot to leave the room. Get me out of here. Send help.'' And then the line went dead.

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Howard Kane, victim
Windows on the World
Portraits of Grief: No Words for the View

Howard Kane was the controller for Windows on the World, a restaurant on the 106th and 107th floors of the north tower. His wife, Laurie, was on the phone with him as he sat in his office on the 106th floor when the first plane hit. This is her account:

After the plane hit I heard a woman, one of the girls in his office, started screaming, ``Oh my God, we're trapped.'' I heard him screaming on the phone to me, calling my name. I thought at the time he dropped the phone. I thought he had a heart attack. I kept yelling to him. I could hear people screaming in the background. Another man picked up and said ``There's a fire. We have to call 911.''

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Garth Feeney, victim
Data Synapse
Portraits of Grief: An Engineer's Shortcut

Garth Feeney was a vice president with Data Synapse. He was attending a business conference at Windows on the World on the 106th floor of the north tower when the plane hit. About five minutes after the crash, he called his mother, Judy Feeney, in Florida. This is her account:

I had just turned on "Good Morning America." They had something on about the plane and I had just mentioned it to my husband when the phone rang and it was my son. I simply said something like, ``Hi. What's new?'' He said, ``Mom, I'm not calling to chat. I'm in the World Trade Center and it's been hit by a plane.'' I said, ``Please tell me you are below it.'' He said, ``No, I'm above it. I'm on the top floor. There are 70 of us in one room. They have closed the doors and they are trying to keep the smoke out.''

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Christopher Hanley, victim
Portraits of Grief: He Liked What He Saw

Mr. Hanley was attending the Risk Waters Group conference in the Windows on the World catering space on the 106th floor.

He called 911 after the first plane hit, at 8:57, and reported smoke on the 106th floor. He also reported that "People cannot get down," according to the police dispatcher's notes of the conversation.

Mr. Hanley's father, Joseph Hanley, said that Christopher also called his girlfriend, Tracy, about 9 a.m. She told Joseph Hanley that Christopher had said to her, ``I'm OK. I'm on the 106th floor. It's filled with smoke and we can hardly breathe.'' Christopher also said something about not being able to use the stairs.

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Peter Alderman, victim
Bloomberg LP
Portraits of Grief: They'll Always Have France

Mr. Alderman, a salesman for Bloomberg LP, was on the 106th floor of the north tower attending a conference at Windows on the World. His picture and that of a colleague, William Kelly, were taken at the conference that morning and the photographer left with the film just a short while before the plane struck. Mr. Alderman sent e-mails to his office and his sister after the first plane struck, copies of which were provided by his mother, Liz Alderman. Type-setting of e-mail below is faithful to the way it appeared on the originals.

At 9:05 a friend of Mr. Alderman's at Bloomberg sent out an e-mail to him, saying, "Pete, if you get this please let me know that you'rre okay."

At 9:07, Mr. Alderman responded, "THERE IS A lot of SMOKE"

"Are they telling you what to do?" his friend wrote back at 9:15.

"No," Mr. Alderman responded, "its a mess"

Then the friend asked, "Are you still in the building"

To which Mr. Alderman replied, "Yes can't move."

At 9:22 Mr. Alderman responded to a message of concern from one of his supervisors, Kevin Foley, who asked, "peter are you okay" Mr. Alderman responded, "The room is getting very smokey."

Mr. Foley then asked "Are you getting any instructions"

Mr. Alderman wrote back, "No we are stuck in an office with a lot of smoke everyone is worried *nd the smoke is filling up the room."

He sent the above message, his last, at 9:25 a.m.

Simultaneously he was talking on line with his sister.

Jane Alderman.

He told her at 9:07, "I'm SCARED THERE IS A lot OF SMOKE"

She e-mailed him several more times, ending with this question, "can you get out of there?"

Mr. Alderman replied at 9:16 a.m. "No we are stuck"


William Kelly, victim
Bloomberg LP
Portraits of Grief: Mr. Long Beach Island

Mr. Kelley was attending a conference at Windows on the World. This account comes from Colleen Kelly and Maureen Donegan, the sisters of William Kelly. The North Tower was hit by the first plane, at 8:46 a.m. No one above the impact floors survived.

Mr. Kelly sent several e-mails to his office that were provided by his sisters, Colleen Kelly and Maureen Donegan. Typesetting of the e-mails below is faithful to the way it appeared on the originals.

His picture and that of Peter Alderman, his colleague from Bloomberg, was taken in the restaurant by a photographer who left before the plane hit.

The dialogue started with an e-mail from a friend of Mr. Kelly's. The friend wrote at 9:05 a.m. in this message to several of their friends: ``Check out the news. A plane just hit the World Trade Center.''

Mr. Kelly responded at 9:10 using his Blackberry that he had with him at the conference, where he was helping to display a Bloomberg information system. His response was, ``I'm stuck on the 106th floor....stuck.''

Then Kevin Foley, one of Mr. Kelly's supervisors, sent out another e-mail to him at 9:21 a.m. It said, `bill are you okay?''

Several other colleagues also sent him emails.

At 9:23, Mr. Kelly sent a response to Mr. Foley. ``We're trapped on 106th flr. But apparently fire dept is almost here.''

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Stuart Lee, victim
Data Synapse
Portraits of Grief: Always on the Move

Stuart Lee, a vice president with Data Synapse, was attending the Risk Waters conference on the 106th floor of the north tower. His company had a display booth in the Horizon Suite at the restaurant and he was joined at the conference by three other Data Synapse employees. After the first plane struck, Mr. Lee began to exchange e-mails with his office, using his Blackberry handheld communication device. Here is the text of some of the e-mails that Mr. Lee sent and received.

At 9:11, Mr. Lee sent an e-mail to his boss, Peter Lee, no relation. The subject was `Plane crashed into WTC.` In the `Importance` field, he listed it as `HIGH.`

In his text, he asked, `Any idea which floor/side the plane crashed?`

Two minutes later, Peter Lee writes back, `Where are you?`

Stuart Lee responded at 9:17. `Don't know exactly,` he wrote. `We're more or less trapped in one of the offices on 106th floor. Window faces West. Everywhere else is smoked out. Any news form the outside?`

A minute later, Peter Lee responded from his office in Greenwich Village. `Who is with you,'' he wrote. `I've been on the phone with Raj, [another Data Synapse employee who was on the 106th floor] then got cut off. We called Lynn [Stuart Lee's wife], who is fine. We have called the police and spoken directly with people there - there is a team heading to 106 floor.`

At 9:23 Stuart Lee wrote back. `Appreciate the update. Garth [Feeney, a co-worker] is a few feet away in this crowded office. Currently an argument going on as whether we should break a window. Consensus is no for the time being.`

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Joanna Vidal, victim
Risk Waters Group
Portraits of Grief: A Conference and a Call

She spoke briefly with her father, Enrique, at around 8:55 a.m. This is his account:

She called me and told me the building was on fire. I told her to get out of there. She said you could feel the heat. They were trying to do whatever they can. I could hear somebody in the background saying, ``The building is on fire. Try to break something for the smoke to go out.''

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Hagay Shefi, victim
Gold Tier Technologies
Portraits of Grief: A True Partnership

Hagay Shefi was the founder of Gold Tier Technologies and he was attending the Risk Waters Group conference at Windows on the World on the 106th floor of the north tower. At 9:04, he called his wife, Sigal. Friends have described Mr. Shefi as an eternal optimist but his wife said she could tell right away that he was very concerned, and that it was very serious.

``He told me there was a bomb and there is a lot of smoke,'' she said. ``He was very calm, but I got the feeling that he knows it was very severe conditions. He knows he will not get out. The way he was talking. He was very heavy. He was like saying goodbye.''

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Peter Mardikian, victim
Imagine Software

Portraits of Grief: At Long Last, Together

According to his wife, Corine, he called her at about 9:05 a.m., using one of the few landline phones that were still working on the 106th floor, which was the lower floor of the Windows on the World restaurant. They spoke for a few minutes.

``He said it was very, very smoky,'' Ms. Mardikian said, ``and he was worried about his breathing. He was talking about going up to the roof. I think he was trying to shelter me. He said he couldn't talk longer because there were a lot of people standing in line to use the phone.''

Interview by Kevin Flynn


Ralph Gerhardt, victim
Cantor Fitzgerald
Portraits of Grief: A Dream Fulfilled

Ralph Gerhardt's office faced the Hudson River. On a cellphone after the plane hit his building, he was able to reach his father, Hans Gerhardt, in Toronto.

He was able to call at 8:48 a.m. His words were that something happened at the World Trade Center. ``We either got hit by a bomb or a plane. I'm okay, we are okay. We are trying to evacuate now. I love you and I will call as soon as I can.''

He wasn't the kind of person who easily would get scared. He did deep sea diving and bungee jumping. There was some tremor in his voice. But he was confident.

We are very grateful to have that. We are very grateful to have that moment.

Interview by James Glanz


Mike Pelletier, victim
Cantor Fitzgerald
Portraits of Grief: Private Language

After the impact he phoned his wife, Sophie, at 8:51 a.m., according to cell records, and a mutual friend reached him at 9:24 a.m. His wife recounted those conversations.

He went by Mike. He's French Canadian. I'm French French. He was a commodities broker.

He's only been at Cantor almost a year. He sort of switched around a lot.

He took the 6:04 train from Greenwich, Conn. That's the time he went in that morning. He was at his desk by 7, 7:10 every morning.

He kissed me goodbye. I have a two-and-a-half year old daughter. And our son is 11 months. And he was 3 months at the time.

That morning was a blur. I remember him kissing me goodbye.

It was our daughter's first day of nursery school. I videotaped it. I drove to her nursery school and I parked in the parking lot.

I was just getting Sydney out of her car seat when the car phone rang.

I picked up. And it was him. And he was just in a panic.

He just said, ``Soph, an airplane just went through the building. I don't know what we're going to do.'' He said he loved me.

And it took me a second to just realize what was happening. I said, ``Oh my God, is there help?'' He said, ``We don't know. We don't know. We can't tell.''

I said should I call 911. He said, ``Yeah, yeah, yeah. Call 911.'' That was it. He told me he loved me.

I called 911 from my cellphone and ended up getting Connecticutt 911. They were laughing. They hadn't heard. They said, ``Oh yeah, we'll make sure we pass along the message.''

His friend got through to him on his cellphone. Randy. He said, ``Thank God, Randy, thank God it's you. It's bad.''

Randy told him it was a terrorist attack. Mike started swearing. Mike was relaying information to everyone. Randy could hear him relaying information to everyone. He could hear people in the background.

Mike just said, ``We're not injured, we're just a little bit disoriented because of the smoke. Because we're getting air through the window.''

He said, ``Don't hang up. Don't hang up. You need to get an engineer on another line who knows the building to tell us how to get out. Because we don't know how to get out.''

They died alone. No one was there to help them. No one was there to hold their hand. But they were brave. They did everything they could to get out and they fought with their heart and soul and there was just no way out, and that was torture.

Interview by James Glanz


Jeff Shaw, victim
Forest Electric I.B.E.W. local 3
Portraits of Grief: A Third Son to Die

His wife, Debra, offered this account of her brief conversations with him after the first plane hit:

I called him on his cell. I called him right after the first plane hit. He was up on the 105th floor at the time. He asked me first of all what happened. I said a plane hit. He said the room is full of heavy black smoke. They can't even see in front of them. And it was hard to breathe. He said they are trying to get the people out.

``But it doesn't look good babe,'' he said. I called him back a little while later. And of course the phone went dead. I called him at 10 to 9 and then 5 after 9. Actually, just as the second plane hit was the time I got back to him. That's when he was just screaming, ``Bye.''

He knew that building like the back of his hand. He slept in there. I'm sure he went down searching, doing everything they could.

Interview by James Glanz


Robert McCarthy, victim
Cantor Fitzgerald
Portraits of Grief: Devoted to Family and Food

Robert McCarthy, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, was on the 104th floor of the North Tower. His spoke to his wife, Annie.

He called me right after the impact. He really didn't say anything to me. He sounded like he was kind of crying. I don't know. He said, ``What are you doing?'' I said, ``I'm sleeping.'' He said, ``You have to call my sister. I think Gerry's dead.''(Mr. McCarthy's brother-in-law, Gerald O'Leary, worked as a sous-chef for the company in a kitchen several floors below.)

I called his sister right away. She turned on the TV. She saw. I believe Rob called her. Basically said the same thing he said to me.

Apparently, he had said to his mom, ``There are no stairs.''

It didn't sound like there was any panic going on in the background. I talked to him right after it happened. He didn't sound like he was running to get out at that point because it had just happened.

Interview by James Glanz


Ian Schneider, victim
Cantor Fitzgerald
Portraits of Grief: Loud and Caring

His wife, Cheryl, spoke with him after the plane hit.

He phoned home before he called 911. It looked like it was 8:45. He told me that a plane had hit the building, that the buildng had rocked like it never had before, that he was okay.

I said, ``What do you mean a plane hit the building?'' I said, ``Are you getting out of the building?'' He said, ``I'm not sure. I'm not sure what's going on.'' And he said he had to go. And he hung up. It was probably within a matter of seconds of when the plane hit.

I tried to get back, but couldn't get through. It wasn't until I guess a couple weeks later that some of the 911 transcripts were released. He identified himelf, that he was on the 105th floor. His office was on 104. He said that there were a lot of people with him, that the smoke was getting pretty thick. When he called home, I heard other noise in the background. His trading desk was fairly noisy. I didn't sense an unbelievable amount of panic in his voice. He was there when the bomb went off in '93. As the words were coming out of his mouth, and I was trying to digest them, it took a while to sink in. A plane? How could a plane hit the building.

His voice was okay. It was fairly calm. He didn't want to worry me. I got a sense that they quite didn't know that it was the big jetliner. He had been in that building since 1981. He had been with Cantor for 23 years. He was there in the 1993 bombing and went back into building the next day to recover transactions and computer records. He was very loyal.

Interview by James Glanz


Andrew Rosenblum, victim
Cantor Fitzgerald
Portraits of Grief: Love Was All Around

Andrew Rosenblum was a stock trader and vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald who led a team on the 104th floor of 1 World Trade Center. They sat on the north side of the floor, in an open trading area, where they had fine views of the Empire State Building. He made four calls to his wife, Jill Rosenblum, from the conference room on northwestern corner of the floor, where he and about 50 others barricaded themselves. According to cell records, the times of the calls were the following:
8:48, Spoke for 2 minutes.
9:12, spoke for 4 minutes.
9:33, spoke for 8 minutes. Mr. Rosenblum took an incoming call at 9:43, for 2 minutes.
His last call out was at 10:23 a.m., and he spoke for 1 minute.
Jill Rosenblum told this story:

I always talked to Andrew at least three or four times a day. Usually very early and then usually not until the market had been open for a while. He was usually at work 7:30 to 8. I happened to have gotten a phone call from a friend of ours who asked me to remove a cabinet door that he was going to replace for me. So I had called Andrew because I happened to have been in the house. I thought why don't I just call him and tell him I'm trying to remove this cabinet door. I probably called him about 8:40. Maybe 8:42. He said, "How come you're not at the gym?" I said, "Well, I'm taking off this cabinet door because Barry's going to come by and pick it up." And we were talking for a couple minutes.

And all of a sudden said to me: "Did you hear that?" I said, "Did I hear what?" He goes, "It was a really loud bang." I said, "No, I didn't hear anything." And he goes,"O.K., I'll call you right back." He hung up the phone.

Maybe a minute and a half later, maybe two minutes later, he called me. It must have been his cell phone. And he said "Put on, quick, put on the news." He said, "Tell me what happened."

He had no idea what had happened. He thought there was some sort of explosion but he didn't know from what. His floor had filled up with smoke. It's a big trading floor. It's a big open area with just long desks and chairs. There's really no offices. Except one or two corners of the room. One was in the northwest corner. He and about 50 other people ran into this corner office because their floor had filled up with smoke relatively quickly. And I told Andy that a plane just hit the second tower. And he yelled out to these people who were in this office with them, "A plane just hit the second tower." And he realized a plane must have hit their tower too.

He started giving me names of these people who were standing near him and their phone numbers and said please call their spouses, "And tell them that they were in this corner office." He called out to them. I have to say the people were relatively calm. At that point we lost our connection. We got it back. At that point he told me the office was getting smoky. I asked him if they had any water. They didn't. I said did they have any ventilation. They said they had taken a computer terminal and broken one of the windows. So they had some air coming in. This is all prior to the second building falling.

I guess it must have filled up with smoke pretty quickly. He did say there was some fire on this floor. It was impeding his way to get to the stairs or anything else. He also didn't say anything about people jumping or anything like that. But he did say at one point, "Oh my God."

He said that it was getting smoky in there. He was coughing. I heard people having some problems with coughing and kind of choking a bit. I asked, could he make it to a stairwell. He said to me, "There's no way. We can't open this door. There's fire on the floor." Then he was worried that they didn't know that they (were) still there. He kept saying to me, "I don't know that they know we're still there. Call 911. Call 911." I kept him on the phone and I had people calling the fire department. Finally we got through to one one of the New York City fire departments, just to tell them there were about 50 people in the northwest corner office of the 104th floor of 1 World Trade Center.

I told Andrew, "They know you're in there. And he yelled out to the people who were with him, "They know we're in here." They weren't panicking. You heard a couple people saying, "Oh my God." Then we lost our connection. That was maybe two minutes before 2 World Trade Center fell. I watched on T.V. as 2 World Trade Center fell. It never occurred to me that these buildings would fall.

As soon as the building fell, everybody was dialing to get through. At that point I was just going to say to him, "You know what? You have nothing to lose." Get wherever you could get at this point.

I never got through to him again. Ever. But after the other building fell down. My telephone rang. And I answered it. And there was nobody there. After about 3 minutes of saying, "Hello hello hello," I star 69'd. You know where they give you the phone number. And they played back Andy's cell phone number.

He was definitely still in that office with those other 50 people.

Interview by James Glanz


Michael Wittenstein, victim
Cantor Fitzgerald
Portraits of Grief: Every Day a Casual Day

He spoke with Robert Bernstein, the man who was to be his father in law. Mr. Bernstein eventually walked out onto the streets around the Trade Center, near where he worked. This is his account:

I called him. I was sitting across the street. I said let me call over there and see what's going on. He was perfectly calm. He didn't know what was happening. I said, ``Michael, just drop the phone and run.'' Two minutes later, my daughter called me. She was crying. I said, ``I just talked to him. He's fine.'' She came over, Nassau Street and Cedar Street. I might have been one of the first ones that called him. I didn't tell him it was a plane. I just told him to run. And I threw in a couple more words obviously. He did say that everything's all right, and we're going to evacuate.

Interview by James Glanz


Richard Y.C. Lee , victim
Cantor Fitzgerald
Portraits of Grief: Time for a Playroom

Mr. Lee ran the equities technology group for Cantor Fitzgerald, with an office on the Hudson River side of the 104th floor. Dan Windram, who worked for Mr. Lee and who left the office for a training seminar at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 11, and so survived, said his boss was almost always the smartest person in a room. But Mr. Lee carried it lightly by using his highly developed sense of humor. For instance, Mr. Windram noticed on a visit to Mr. Lee's home that he had pasted a picture of Homer Simpson over the Yale seal on his college degree. ``That was just typical Rich,'' Mr. Windram said. Mr. Lee phoned his wife, Karen, after the plane hit his tower. She wrote this description of her conversation with him:

As usual, I'd already spoken to him on the phone a few times that morning and had told him I was about to go run some errands, so I was surprised when the phone rang less than 20 minutes later (around a quarter to 9).

Karen: Hello?

Rich: Hi. (He sounded relieved I had answered, he continued in a calm voice.) Can you do me a favor?

Karen: O.K., what?

Rich: Dont panic, but a plane just hit the building, there's smoke, and I need you to call 911 or World Trade Center maintenance and give them my cell phone number. Tell them there are people on the 104th floor, we're all O.K., but we need to know what to do.

(He sounded calm and controlled, I thought it must just have been a small private plane that went off course.)

Karen: I was flustered and nervous, asked why he wanted me to call and which to try, 911 or World Trade Center.

Rich: I could, but I don't have the numbers. Call either, both - whoever you can get

(I started getting more nervous.)

Karen: And what should I tell them again?

Rich: There's a lot of smoke. We need to know what to do, should we break a window or what?

(My heart started racing, realizing it was worse than I thought.)

Karen: O.K., I'll call someone. (Static on the line.) Are you there? I can't hear you. O.K., I'll call now.

I hung up not sure that he had heard me or the connection had been broken. I called local 911 first...

After delivering the message, I didn't call back because I wanted to leave the line open for the rescue people to reach him.

I began listening to the radio news. People who saw it began calling me. I started to panic, but kept clinging to the sound of his voice, so calm and strong, and told myself and the callers he was O.K., I'd heard from him, he was getting help, he would get out. If anyone could get out, he would, but I also knew he'd make sure everyone with him got out first.

This sentiment was shared by all who knew him. (I received many notes expressing these feelings in the days following the tragedy from people who had worked with him over the years. A coworker who was not there that day wrote:

``I know what it's like when people shift from recognizing your authority to actively looking to you for leadership... Surely people were looking to Rich to lead them down to safety, and if anyone could have done it would have been him.''

As the enormity of the attack unfolded, I couldn't bear it anymore and tried phoning. At first it was busy and in my confused state I thought good, he's talking to the rescue teams. I tried sending him e-mail messages through his Blackberry, reassuring him I'd called and help was on the way, and telling him to be careful, that he was the world to me and we loved him - all the things I didnt get to say on the phone. I sent several messages, becoming more desperate, begging him to tell me he was still O.K. They all came back `message could not be delivered.'


Patricia Massari, victim
Marsh & McLennan
Portraits of Grief: The Family Was Starting

Her husband, Louis, was speaking with her when the plane hit. The two were both taking college courses in addition to their jobs. His account follows:

We had found out we were having our first child that morning. I was off of work that Tuesday. We were just talking and the next thing that was said to me was -- clear as day, I hear it every day in my mind -- she said, ``Oh, my God.'' That's the last. She saw something, she felt something. For me, it was something that scared her for that split second. I heard like a noise real quick. I thought it was her falling on the chair and disconnecting the phone line. I waited a few minutes and I tried to call back. And I called back and it said all circuits were busy. I just knew that it was pretty bad because the hole was pretty high. I kept saying, ``Not now, not my wife, not just when we heard this news about the baby.''

Interview by Jim Glanz


Patricia Alonso, victim
Marsh & McLennan

She managed one phone call to her husband, Robert. This is his brief account:

She worked in Tower 1, 95th floor. She was on the southeast side looking over the Brooklyn Bridge.

I talked to her while she was evacuating. She called me on her cell phone at 9:07. She said she was leaving. She was evacuating.

I said, ``I'm coming down to get you.'' And I told her I loved her. And she told me she loved me.

She didn't know that a plane had hit the building. She just said there was smoke.

Interview by Jim Glanz


Jeff Nussbaum, victim
Carr Futures
Portraits of Grief: The Mayor of the Hamptons

He left a phone message with his brother Craig. He also spoke more than once with his mother, Arline. This is her account:

His first phone call to me was before 9 o'clock. I had just heard on the radio about the plane when the phone rang. ``Are you okay?'' I asked. ``No, call 911. We can't breathe. The rooms are filling up with smoke, and the sprinkler sysems have gone off.''

He told me they're knee deep in water and there's black smoke -- they can hardly see and they're having difficulty breathing. ``Call 911,'' he told me. Then he hung up. I called the 911 here in Long Island, and they put me through to the NYC 911, and I told her where people were alive, and this was what my son was saying to me.

In the second phone call, he told me they were 45 of them together. He said the they're overlooking the river. He said, ``We broke the windows, so at least we could breathe.'' I heard men yelling. I did not hear any of the girls' voices. I know one of the girls was a very good friend, and they were like brother and sister, and I am sure they would have stayed close.

He asked, ``What's taking the F.D. so long to get here?''

The fellows in the background were giving me telephone numbers to call. Then he says, ``I'm hanging up, I've got to call 911 again.''

[He made a number of phone calls to 911, and he also shared the phone with Andy Friedman, who had recently started at Carr. Andy spoke to his wife Lisa.]

His third phone came just after the first tower went down. He said, ``Mom, what was that explosion?'' I said, ``The other tower just went down.'' He said, ``Oh, my God. I love you.'' The phone went dead.

Interview by Jim Dwyer


Andrew Friedman, victim
Carr Futures
Portraits of Grief: A Life of Friends

He spoke briefly with his wife, Lisa. This is her account:

My husband had been working there for two weeks. He was starting an equities desk. He called me at 9:16. Actually, someone else placed this call, and said, ``Is this Mrs. Friedman? I have Andrew for you.''

I could hear coughing in the background. He sounded totally calm. He said, ``Lis, we're in a room together, we have plenty of air.''

I said, ``I love you.'' That was pretty much the whole conversation.

He sounded like he had to get off the phone, that others were waiting for it.

Interview by Jim Dwyer


Mike McQuaid, survivor
Fire Alarm Installer

Mr. McQuaid was on the 91st floor of the north tower when the first plane hit. This put him just below the impact zone, which was the 94th floor to the 98 floor. He is not counted among the 18 who got out alive from at or above the impact zone. But his story describes the conditions just below impact.

I was on the south side of 91. We were installing fire alarms. There were five of us in my crew. The plane came in from the north side. I could look out and see the Statue of Liberty. The floor was only 25 percent occupied. Silverstein [the company that leased the towers] was going to take it over. There were also a couple of artists on the floor. They have some kind of artists. A big open area.

I was talking to someone from American Bureau of Shipping [also on 91st floor]. I hear this explosion, like a transformer below. What the hell was that? The whole place shook. The hallway started filling up with smoke. I started screaming for the rest of my crew to come out. One of them emerged with a cut on his head. He says he got knocked out, and the smoke woke him up. This guy later died in the hospital, some two months later, but he seemed fine at the time.

We went to the stairwell. It was the one across from the men's room on 91. The northwest stairwell. One of my crew went back for his phone. I yelled into the offices of American Bureau of Shipping. Is anybody else in there? A woman with a red hat came out and said, ``I'm the last one out.'' We went out and into the stairwell.

The first thing I noticed was that no one was coming down the stairs. I also noticed the Sheetrock on the interior of the stairwell on his floor had been knocked off the walls so thoroughly that the steel behind it was showing. The walls are made of four or five sheets of 5/8 inch Sheetrock, which I think is quite strong. The stairwell was dark black and it looked like it was blocked above me, although I can't see much because of the dark.

On 86, I stopped to yell out into the hallway to make sure everyone was out. My aunt works part time for Julien Studley on that floor, and I would have walked through the office if that day had been one of her workdays. If it had been a Monday, I would have had to go and look for her.

Around 82, I and my partner find someone stuck in the elevators between floors -- a Japanese guy. Me and my partner, Anthony, were trying to pull apart the elevator doors, but the guys inside were like slapping our hands. They didn't want the electricians to open the doors for fear of dislodging the elevator. They preferred to wait for rescuers.

At 38, we ran into the first of the firemen they saw. From there down to the ground, it was nonstop firemen coming up the stairs. We got them water on 38. These guys were pouring sweat, they were loaded down with hoses.

Interview by Ford Fessenden


James Gartenberg, victim
Patricia Puma, victim
Julien Studley
Portraits of Grief: Love at First Sight
Portraits of Grief: Two Days a Week

James Gartenberg and Patricia Puma were on the 86th floor of Tower 1, well below the bottom of the impact zone on the 94th floor. But they said that access to the exits was blocked by the collapsed walls and debris. They were unable to escape. During the crisis, both Mr. Gartenberg and Ms. Puma had numerous conversations, including three with a reporter for The New York Times. This is their account of the conditions:

``The explosion on the 86th floor seemed to come from the inside out, rather than the outside in,'' said Mr. Gartenberg, 35, of Manhattan. ``That's why the core of the building is as damaged as it is. The fire door is blocked. It either closed from the force of the explosion or as a fire precaution. The elevators are completely blown out.''

Patricia Puma, who worked in the same office, said: ``The wall in the ladies room started to crack -- it looked like an earthquake. The noise and debris falling outside the building are frightening.

``It looked like the explosion came up through the elevator,'' said Ms. Puma, 33, of Staten Island. ``It looks like the firewall came down and I believe the stairs are on the other side of it.''

Mr. Gartenberg said that the interior glass doors were blown out, but the external windows were intact. He and Ms. Puma considered climbing across the debris to reach the stairs, but more debris fell, ``so we backed off.''

The explosion rocked through his office. ``Good God, could we feel it hitting,'' said Mr. Gartenberg. ``I could feel the whole building shake. There was no windows on our floor blown out.''

As he signed off, Mr. Gartenberg asked that his location be given to rescuers. ``I'm not the easiest guy to reach. We need air.''

Interview by Jim Dwyer


Ezra Aviles, victim
Port Authority

Mildred Aviles, his wife of 21 years, got a call from him right after the plane struck. This is her account of that conversation:

He told me what happened. He called very soon after it happened. I looked at the clock, which I always have set a little fast because I have three kids. He sounded totally in control and calm. He told me a plane had hit the building. He saw the plane hit. Debris was falling and there was a fire and he had to go. He said he was going to go and try to help out the best he could, and that he was going to evacuate the building. I didn't realize how serious it was when he called. He said, ``Millie, a plane hit the building. It's going to be on the news.'' That's when I turned on the TV in the bedroom -- I had two little ones watching Disney in the living room, one who was two and is now about to be three, and one who is now four, and who was three then.

I went in the bedroom and watched it and everything just unfolded.

Someone told me that someone in the office saw him coming down with a female burn victim. There weren't any calls placed to other family. When the other people in his office were leaving, he received a call. They said are you coming, he said, ``Yeah, yeah, I'll be there in a minute.'' That's how he was separated from the other people. In 1993, he worked for the city at that time. He was called to check out the air quality. He helped people out of the building. I remember his face when he talked about helping a firefighter who had smoke inhalation. I could see in his face and his expression how good he felt about being to help people in that situation. It's so unbelievable, that the qualities that you care about in a person...(would lead to his death.)

TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: New York
KEYWORDS: 911; 911families; 911survivors; northtower; wtc
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1 posted on 05/25/2002 4:37:27 PM PDT by sarcasm
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To: sarcasm
Thanks for posting this. I couldn't begin to imagine the horror, but this brings it a little closer.
2 posted on 05/25/2002 5:21:22 PM PDT by freedom4ever
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To: sarcasm
Heart wrenching.
3 posted on 05/25/2002 5:36:29 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: sarcasm
I read 3/4 of them, then had to quit, it's more than I can endure right now!. My kids are at the beach and will be back soon and reading these would make anyone cry.

Thanks for posting this so we can bookmark to remind us of what these people went through!

4 posted on 05/25/2002 6:22:22 PM PDT by potlatch
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To: sarcasm
Jesus, one thread was tough enough, and now this.Thanks for posting both.
5 posted on 05/25/2002 6:27:03 PM PDT by habs4ever
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To: sarcasm
"I Remember September 11, 2001." I'll never forget it! -Cindy
6 posted on 05/25/2002 9:06:47 PM PDT by Cindy
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To: potlatch
I couldn't read them all either.
7 posted on 05/25/2002 9:22:09 PM PDT by Fred Mertz
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To: sarcasm
8 posted on 05/25/2002 9:35:20 PM PDT by Marie Antoinette
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To: Fred Mertz
A bump for what you said.

Sometimes I wonder how big must the heart of God BE to handle all the tragedies of this world since Cain killed his brother.

9 posted on 05/25/2002 10:00:31 PM PDT by GretchenEE
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To: sarcasm
Thanks, and BUMP ffor later read.
10 posted on 05/25/2002 10:06:21 PM PDT by JimRed
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To: sarcasm
Once in a while, the NYT does something to indicate real humans work on its staff. They deserve kudos for what looks like a phenomenal Sunday issue. I might just have to go get a copy.
11 posted on 05/25/2002 10:12:26 PM PDT by July 4th
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To: July 4th
Once in a while, the NYT does something to indicate real humans work on its staff.

When they fire Maureen Dowd and send her to alcohol rehab.....then I will applaud them.

12 posted on 05/25/2002 10:17:59 PM PDT by SkyPilot
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To: GretchenEE
Sometimes I wonder how big must the heart of God BE to handle allow all the tragedies of this world since Cain killed his brother.
13 posted on 05/25/2002 10:21:12 PM PDT by cinFLA
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To: sarcasm
I'd like to know if there is an investigative piece under these accounts. One that demands to know what Bush knew and when? Thats the only way the Times would print these emotion stirring pieces.
14 posted on 05/25/2002 10:29:59 PM PDT by Archie Bunker on steroids
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To: cinFLA
I know that nothing happens on this earth without God's permission (allowance). I referred to the pain God feels over the works of His creation that we inflict on ourselves. He feels it more than we do, because He knows that some who leave this life will be raised again unto eternal damnation. My post was a reflection on His love that sent His Son to die for us so that those who accept Him would have eternal life. How great that love is -- it's beyond my comprehension.
15 posted on 05/25/2002 10:32:50 PM PDT by GretchenEE
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To: sarcasm
Chilling. Thanks for putting it up.
16 posted on 05/25/2002 11:04:42 PM PDT by Semper911
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To: cinFLA; Fred Mertz
I don't believe God 'allows' these things to happen - He gave man 'free will' and the terrorists used theirs to do this.
17 posted on 05/28/2002 8:27:00 PM PDT by potlatch
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To: potlatch
Why bad things happen to good's the eternal mystery.
18 posted on 05/28/2002 8:31:20 PM PDT by Fred Mertz
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To: Fred Mertz
19 posted on 05/29/2002 3:10:56 PM PDT by potlatch
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To: sarcasm
Hope they reprint every year so people don't forget
20 posted on 05/29/2002 3:17:05 PM PDT by paul51
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