Eyewitness Account From
Inside WTC 1


I am physically unharmed, except for the bottom of my feet which were all cut up since I lost my shoes. ... 89th Floor of 1 World Trade Center... A few minutes later the entire front of my office, where I was sitting, blew up and the entire building swayed back and forth. Flames, smoke, and debris from the ceiling covered the entrance of the office. There were four other people in my office at that time. Since we could not exit the normal way, the only other option was to use the emergency exit, which was located a few feet away and luckily had not yet gone up in flames.

"There was a problem, though. Because my company had never dreamed of anything of this magnitude happening, we used the narrow room where the exit was located as the Xerox room, in which were kept file cabinets about 9 feet high used to store supplies, etc. In the explosion, the cabinets fell over and the ceiling came down, blocking the exit door. I thought we were trapped and would burn right there.

"One of my co-workers, Frances, was in the Xerox room and was almost crushed by one of the cabinets. In a matter of seconds we were all in the room trying to lift the cabinets and open the exit door enough so that we could crawl through. It's true what they say about superhuman strength when the adrenaline is pumping. We finally did it.

"The entire floor was filled with smoke, and luckily the office two doors down was safe to go into. The five of us, could barely breathe due to all of the smoke we inhaled and were restlessly walking around the office, coughing, cursing, crying, yelling, trying to contact people we loved, holding each other. We had no idea what the hell was going on. We thought that perhaps a pipe had burst or something.

"We dialed for help, but when you dial 911 in the WTC (which, not so coincidentally was yesterday's date 9/11/01, EMERGENCY), you do not get the police, you get the WTC emergency line. They wouldn't tell us what happened. Someone from the office we crawled into had the bright idea of turning on the radio and that is when we learned what had happened.

"A plane intentionally crashed into 1 WTC - it crashed TWO floors above mine. We all stopped in our tracks at that moment, and I believe we all had the same thought: "Oh my god! I'm going to die." Well, I tried to call my mom, her boyfriend, my stepdad, a couple of friends and nothing went through. I called my aunt's job and finally got at least a machine.

"At that point I was hysterically crying and told her that the building was on fire, that I was going to die and to please tell my mom and sisters that I really love them. I was actually able to hear this message late last night when I got to my aunt's apartment. I couldn't believe the terror in my voice...so close to death.

"Anyway, a few minutes later we heard the radio announcer say that a second plane was heading straight for 2 WTC. A few seconds later our building once again swayed back and forth as the as result of the second plane crashing into 2 WTC. I hear now that it was 18 minutes between crashes. In those 18 minutes we heard no sirens, only the ones in the building when there's a fire, there was not one announcement from authorities at the WTC alerting us that there was an emergency situation and that we should evacuate, nothing.
If we hadn't turned the radio on, we would not have known what the hell had happened. I was in such a rage.

"The hallways were filled with smoke and we couldn't find the staircases. Finally, about 5 minutes after the second crash, someone who worked for the Port Authority entered our office and directed us to the stairs with a flashlight. Meanwhile, we were getting soaked because the sprinkler system had turned on, people were falling because the debris from the ceiling was piled high, and a couple of people fainted.

"All five of us clung to each other and made it safely to the stairs. I think that the most terrifying part of this whole experience was the 45 or so minutes we were all walking down those 89 flights of stairs. I really doubted that we would make it out alive. There was a lot of blockage in the stairways. Every couple of minutes everyone would have to stop and move aside to let the firemen go up, someone would become fatigued and have to stop in the middle of going down, some of the stairwells were flooded, making everyone have to go down more slowly. It was a real nightmare. Frances and I became separated from our three co-workers. We were really trying to get down as fast as we possibly could.

"Finally, we got down, drenched. By this time I was shoeless, had to walk over all the broken glass and debris that was on the ground. ..."

See also: 

9/11 Security Courtesy of Marvin Bush
The 9/11 WTC Collapses: An Audio-Video Analysis

What Really Happened