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Sept 11 Marriott Stories

* Last Updated: August 11, 2011

Survivor stories and Memorium
Below is an archive of accounts from hotel guests, attendees, firefighters, rescue workers, employees, and other people who were in the Marriott Hotel on September 11, 2001. To submit a story, please send to story@sept11MarriottSurvivors.org

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    Amy Loe Hotel Employee - Clerk * New 9/8/04

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Sept 11 Marriott Stories

Joyce Ng - (Hotel guest - 13th Floor - Room 1335)

I was on the 13th floor of the World Trade Center Marriott Hotel when the first plane hit the North Tower. I was getting ready in the hotel room to head for work at 50 Broad Street, a few blocks from the World Trade Center. It seemed like a regular day on the morning of Sept 11, 2001. All of a sudden, I heard an immense explosion. The explosion was so powerful, it rocked the building and my entire room shook. I did not know what it was. I thought it might have been an earthquake or a construction accident. I ran out to the hallway to find some news & saw no one.

I called the front desk - lines were busy. I finally looked out the window - what I saw was unimaginable horror. Fiery debris was raining outside my window. I saw a blizzard of glass, paper, debris and chunks of metal avalanching to the ground into the plaza between the two towers. The explosion had sent burning debris & glass to the plaza below. I saw scores of people running for cover. I saw other people collapse as they were hit by flying debris. I was shocked and horrified as I watched from my room as people ran for their lives, got hit by debris and were injured or killed. More thunderous explosions erupted as additional large chunks of building fell outside my window & came plummeting down to the plaza. Pieces of metal the size of couches fell right in front of my eyes as I looked on in horror. I became terrified the debris would crash right into my room so I ran to the bathroom. My heart was racing - I thought my life was over. I heard a woman in the hallway yell, "Get out of the building!" I went out the hallway & saw a tall blond woman yelling, "Get out of here!" Some people started coming out of their rooms, confused. At this point, I still didn't know what was happening but I grabbed my wallet, phone & went to the nearest stairway. Only a few others followed. The tall blond woman kept stopping on each floor to warn others. I asked her what was going on. She just kept screaming, "Get out of the building!"

I continued my way down the stairs & was the first to reach the first floor. The only exit on the first floor was a glass door leading to the plaza. Unfortunately, it lead to the plaza between the twin towers where it was still avalanching thick dust, paper, glass shards & metal chunks - we couldn't leave through that door or we would have been killed by the falling debris. Fear consumed me for a few seconds with the thought of not being able to get out of the building. I went back up the stairs. I took a chance & got off on the 3rd floor & luckily, it was the hotel lobby. A security personnel was directing people out. Along with numerous of other people, I walked out the building. The first person I noticed outside was a police officer. He screamed at us,"Get out of this area & don't look up!"

"Get out of the area and don't look up, get out of the area-don't look up "- these words rang in my ears as I walked away. I tried to use my cell phone but all connections were busy. As I crossed the street, I turned around & looked up at the World Trade Center - unspeakable horror loomed above me. Flames were bellowing out from the top floor windows of the first tower. I watched in shock as the World Trade Center burned. It was an inferno. I felt a wave of sadness as I realized all the people in those top floors were burning and dying. Then, I saw bodies coming out the windows & falling to the ground. People stopped & stared and could not peel their eyes away from the scene. For me, the carnage in the plaza earlier in addition to the falling bodies from the building was too much to handle. I looked away & kept walking. I couldn't bear to look anymore at the looming death all around me. As I walked, a large plane flew over me. For a second, I felt relieved because I thought it was the US military Air Force making its way to rescue the people in the burning tower. Then I heard people wondering why a passenger plane would be flying this low towards the World Trade Center. That was when I heard a deafening crash in the sky - the plane had crashed into the second tower. The ground seem to shake with the crash. The streets were filled with screams and everyone started running. It felt like the end of the world.

I was scared for my life. I started running and looking frantically for cover. Everyone was running for cover - behind cars, in buildings. I ran so fast, I dropped my credit cards from my wallet. A man with a British accent picked up my credit cards, ran after me to give them back. I knew I needed to get underground. I ran and ran, sometimes it seem in circles. I ran until I came to a subway station. I got on the No. 5 train at Bowling Green. In the train, I met a man whose eyes were damaged from the flying debris. He had glass in in his eyes, just wanted to go home and see a doctor to treat his eyes.

It was only at that point, in the subway on the No. 5 train going uptown that I found out the towers were attacked by hijacked planes taken over by terrorist. The subway had stopped for several minutes to reverse directions. Some people knew there was an attack, while others didn't. When the train stopped, a few passengers who started complaining that they would be late for work. I wanted to yell at them, "If they knew what was going on outside, you would NOT be complaining." However, my nerves were too shot, and I was shaking too much to utter a word. The train had reversed direction to go uptown but it had stopped for several minutes. When the train stopped, I got off at the next stop. I went out and started wandering the streets of lower Manhattan. I walked around for nearly 8 hours from lower Manhattan to midtown. I was walking around in a daze, watching the news from TVs setup, trying to call my husband, and also looking for a place to stay. I stopped by several hotels to see if they had any vacancies but was turned away. I was terrified to be in New York and wanted to leave the city. I stopped by car rental places, but all was sold out. At Port Authority, there were no buses running. I saw hundreds of people stranded.

It has been 3 days since this horrific event. It took several hours after the attack for the trembling to stop & my heart to return to a normal rate. I am never going to forget what I saw - the images of carnage & people dying are etched in my brain. I have not been able to sleep peacefully without hearing the screams and the explosion & seeing the carnage in my head. I cry when I watch the news. I left behind my luggage in the hotel - it is now covered in the ruins of the World Trade Center collapse. Buried in the rubble are my luggage, my clothes, my backpack, my laptop & notebooks. I lost these items in this horrible event. However, I am grateful that these items are the only thing I lost - I did not lose my life.

I am grateful to the tall blond woman who adamantly went to every floor yelling for everyone to get out of the building. Without her warnings, I probably woudn't stayed longer in my room. I am grateful for the British man in the suit who picked up my credit cards & ran after me to give it back. I am thankful for Marriott Marquis who allowed me into their ballroom shelter with the rows of rollaway beds after being refused by a dozen hotels & after wandering the NY streets for 8 hours looking for a place to stay. I am grateful for the people on 49th street who hugged me & asked if I needed money or help after hearing my story. Peace to the survivors. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost or is missing loved ones.

Joyce Ng
9/14/01
Jerry Meza - Hotel Employee (audio visual technician)

I worked in WTC 3 , better known as New York Marriott World Trade Center. My office was between the first and second floor. I am an audio visual technician. I started working at the World Trade Center in February of 2001. On September 11th I arrived to work around 7 am to find that the valet department didn't have my suit dry cleaned and ready for me, so i called my manager from the basement and told him the situation, he said to clock in and come upstairs. not having the proper attire to work on the floor i worked in and around the office cleaning and organizing supplies. we spoke for about an hour about the weekend that just passed, we were becoming good friends since we had the same taste in music and shared a strong work ethic. His name was Abdu Malahi he was 37 from Yemen, had two sons and a wife. As i was walking through the office chatting with my other manager Laura, she had mentioned to me that the hotel for the first time in a long time was at 100% occupancy, then the initial crash, sounded like a refrigerator fell from the sky and hit the other side of the ceiling. We all stood up and looked at one another completely stunned. About 2 seconds of silence, then the same sound continued for about as long as it took me to leave the building (approx. 1 minute). Before leaving the office, I thought of my friend Ish on the 3rd floor, so I turned back and grabbed a walkie-talkie and called for him. My voice was so frantic that my manager Laura told me to calm down and not to panic. As we headed down the stairs, Abdu noticed he was barefoot and had left his shoes underneath his desk, so he turned back to get them. Laura and I continued down the stairs and headed into the lobby where over a thousand people were clearing out of the ballroom. It was panic and chaos running through the hall and people were falling on each other. Laura noticed there were people tripping over an easel that had fallen to the floor so she bent down to pick it up but was unable to do so due to the amount of people running in fear. Since she was having trouble, I spread my arms to block off people from running into her. The sign which was on the easel was under my feet, and there was coffee spilled on it. I knew it was a hazard, so I tried to pick it up but was also bombarded and a man behind me did the same as I did before and stopped people from running into me. We threw these items to the side and continued to run to the nearest exit, which was a handicapped ramp next to the large revolving door entrance. When I got about 20 feet from the door, I noticed no one was leaving the building. They were all standing by the door as if scared to leave. So I said in my loud deep announcer's voice, "PLEASE EXIT THE BUILDING!" And people began to run out and south. I then realized that north was where I needed to go, because that's where I live. As I stood immediately outside the doorway, I noticed there were no moving cars in the road, but there were a few cars that looked abandoned in the middle of the road, some crashed into walls and other cars. The next thing I noticed was clicking sounds, like things were falling. As I looked up I saw smoke billowing from WTC1, North Tower. I put another call into the walkie-talkie to Ish to say "They blew up the WTC, it's on fire." He asks where I am and I tell him I'm in the front of the building. Abdu interrupts our transmission and urges us not to use this radio frequency during an emergency. As I start running across the street, I noticed a man placing linen over a man in the middle of the street. I see the man who placed the linen run away leaving the other man on the ground alone. So I go to the man on the ground and as I get closer I begin to see that the man's body is completely burned. All of his body hair was burned off and it seemed as if his eyelids were also burned off. He was scrunched up in the fetal position with his head a few inched above the ground. Amazingly he was alive and I told him it was going to be okay. He replied with an "okay". As debris was continuously falling around us, About 20 feet away I saw the back of an office chair. I went to pick it up to use as a cushion for under his head. When I picked it up, it was still hot and singed from what seemed to have been the initial explosion. I run it back to the man on the ground, I slide it under his head but it doesn't reach. There's still about a half inch from his head to the cushion. I tell him again, "everything is going to be allright." He answers, "Allright." I tell him "There's a pillow under your head, if you want to put your head down." He then says, " I can't move my head." I then call Ish on the walkie-talkie again asking him to come to me. he asks me where I am and I tell him I'm outside with a man and I think he fell from the building. The faint sound of fire engines blaring in the distance begin to close in. As the first fire truck makes a U-turn on West Street, I wave him down and direct them to the man on the ground. I then proceed to run across the street and I go into 1 World Fianacial Center ran inside and asked the store employees for the nearest telephone. While everyone around me was running around, there were those few that just stopped and stared at the burning building. I proceeded down the hall and saw that there was a line for the 3 payphones, so I kept running and saw a women locking up her shop. I asked her with tears in my eyes and gasping for breath, "Can I please use your phone." She unlocked the door and said make as many calls as you need and she went to another phone to make her calls. I called my sister Tess who worked in Midtown Manhattan and told her that there was a fire in one of the Twin Towers or an explosion, I still couldn't tell. She asked me if I was okay, I said yes, but I'm going home. She asked me repeatedly what had happened, but I myself did not know. She asked if everyone else was okay, I told her "people are dead." I then called my girlfriend Wendy in Queens who also did not know what has just happened. I told her that I was okay and not to be scared, I would go directly to her house as soon as possible. My 3rd call was to my uncle Luis' girlfriend Gemma in Astoria and when she heard my frantic voice rambling on about burning building's, she began to cry and urged me to be careful and to call back when I arrive safely home. Since the woman owner of the store was still on the phone, I called my brother David in Miami, who 10 minutes earlier turned off his radio which was tuned into Howard Stern in order to complete some paperwork. He pleaded with me to put as much distance as possible between me and the World Trade Center. He repeatedly told me to go home. I told him I would go home right now and call him back. I then thanked the woman and left the store. I returned to the front of the building where rescue EMT's were unloading supplies and disbursing them amongst rescuers. One EMT pointed to a man who was helping another man and asked me, "Run this bag to that man." At the same time I over heard that a small plane had hit the building. Before this happened and after I spoke with my brother David, All that was on my mind was to go home. But when I was asked to help, It made me think about the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. When I first heard about that, I went to the site and volunteered for 3 days. But all I could help with at first was spreading salt on the ground for the anticipated snow fall. In the days that followed, I took food from the then Vista Hotel's kitchen and distributed it to the fire fighter's and police who were guarding the area in and around the disaster. I thought I could do more this time. I decided to go back. I had to run through falling debris to get back into the Marriott. Half way across the street at the U-turn on West Street, running in the same direction was an EMT with lots of badges. Seemed like he was of a high rank. I asked him "is there a coordinator or someone who can tell me what to do, I want to help." He replied, "We shouldn't be here right now man." As he said that, we heard the roar of an approaching airplane. We looked up and watched the airplane as it crashed into the building. Our jaws dropped. We saw the plane enter the right side of the building and a ball of fire emerged from the left side of the building. We both started to run away from the building. He dropped his emergency medical supply bag and ran away from the WTC, I passed the bag and paused. I wasn't sure whether I should continue running or stop and pick up the bag in case someone needed it. I turned and picked it up and continued running away. I ran to the garage ramp of One World Financial Center. When I reached the inside of the garage I stopped and turned. With the emergency supply bag on my shoulder, I attempted to call Ish through the walkie-talkie again. I asked him where he was. He told me the Winter Garden. I didn't know where that was. Abdu called out on the radio's and told us again to stay off the walkie-talkie's. I started thinking my friend is more important to me then emergency protocol. Ish then asked me where I was. Quite frantically I said "Where the hell can I meet you? I'm across the street from the Marriott- A 727 just rammed into the building. I'm leaving, I suggest you do the same." A heavy set African-American NBC camera man knelt down and began to film me as I yelped into the walkie-talkie. He then turned the camera towards the burning building. I passed off the bag to another EMT and headed into the basement looking for a route to the rear of the building , I asked someone how to get upstairs and he pointed to the elevator , but i wasn't about to get on an elevator. I was now running around the basement looking for stairwells or any water fountain, my mouth has never been dryier as i was yelling into the walkie and running around at top speed. I decided the only way to get upstairs was to go back outside up the ramp and then over the lawn and into the building. i was asking around for a water fountain or a bathroom , people directed me to the other side of the lobby so i ran to it and it was closed so i went to a back door of a restaraunt and knocked and waited a minute then i ran away to find water elsewhere then a man opened the door and saw that no one was there so he went back in , fortunatally the door was slow to close and i ran up to it a went in and looked around for water he told me to get out of here were closed and with my hoarse voice i said i need water , he said "no we're closed" and i pleaded with him to "just gimme some water", so he did and i was on my way, i ran out of the rear of the building and noticed that the NYPD were not letting anyone go anywhere towards the WTC they were directing everyone towards the water and i noticed everyone running south. This didn't make sense to me because that would leave no place to run, but only to swim. Since I lived in Queens, which was on the other side of the WTC, I would need to go back through the area in which the police was directing people away from. Knowing they wouldn't let any civiIians through, I ran with the walkie-talkie to my mouth yelling into it but wasn't transmitting so i could seem to be one of hundreds of emergency management people that were there also not in any uniform but most had badges hanging around thier necks. I ran up West Street for two blocks and stopped running and began to just walk fast as I grew tired. I found myself surrounded by other people with whom Many words were exchanged that were running north. Ideas and opinions like "this is no accident" and "this has to be terrorists" and "they are trying to knock down the building's". One man theorized that the point was to knock the buildings down as it was first planned in 1993. I turned and walked east and came to a major intersection where people were standing around staring at the burning Twin Towers. I heard children crying as well adults. I heard loud yelling, things like "oh my God"! "holy sh**"! did you see that"? "I can't look," "there's another one!" So I turned to see what they were staring at and saw a slow continious flow of bodies dropping, jumping and falling from out of the Twin Towers. I thought to myself, what if there were a third plane, if the second plane had made it through the building it would have landed where we stood. I got onto high ground, a park bench I think, and yelled into the crowd from behind, " if there's a third plane, we're all a f***ing target! Get the hell out of here"! I got out of there and continued to run north. As I ran, I turned and looked back and saw that those hundreds of people I just yelled at were all running behind me. On the sidewalk I saw a woman with her two children and their nanny. They were standing there, staring at the Towers. I remember thinking, It breaks my heart to see parents not put their children's best interests first. So i told her, "get your kids out of here." She said thank you and ran. As if she was in a trance and the only thing that could get her out of it was some words of common sense. I continued to run. As I was approaching the corner of an intersection, I see a taxi. So I wave him down and he signals me to come to him. As I'm running across the street, another man is opening the back door of this taxi. He stands there holding it opened for his family who are crossing the street. I jump in under his arm. He pleas with me to get out, He needs to take his family out of here. I say, so bring them in. And I jump in the front seat. The cabbie asks me, "Are you all together"? I tell him, sure. The man in the back seat asks where I'm going. I tell him, "just tell the cab driver where you're going as long as it's not here." So we drive. Fortunately for me, he's going to the Williamsburg Bridge which is in my direction. We drop them off and continue over the bridge. Traffic was heavy. We pull over so I can use a phone to call my girlfriend to let her know I was okay after the second plane had hit & to call everyone and let them know I was still okay and that I was on my way. I hop back in the cab and we continue on our way , as we drive i lean my head and just stare at the streets and pedestrian traffic and notice slight acknowledgement from the general public, people were still just strolling by carrying groceries and coasting on thier bicycles. At every intersection people congragated to watch the smoke billow and drift. The radio in the cab was tuned to 1010 WINS, news radio. I hear news of the attack on the pentagon and just sat there scared of the remaining planes known to still be in the air.The cabbie was Carribean i think, English wasn't his first language, so I clarified what has happened. In the rear view mirror. I notice the building begin to collapse and turn around to watch it fall. I start to cry and he pats me on the back and tells me that he has a son in Seven World Trade Center. He wondered if he was okay. He begins to cry too. Here we are, two grown men, crying our eyes out in traffic. I ask him if he believes in God. He says yes. I tell him no matter what, God will take care of all of us. We continued across the bridge very slowly. When we reach the Brooklyn side, they cut off all traffic in and out of Manhattan. So we had just made it. I arrive at my girlfriends house. I gave her the biggest hug ever and cried in her arms. We then sit on the couch and watch the news as I tried to contact as many loved ones as I could. That's when we saw the second building collapse on Television. I didn't know what to think. Trivial thoughts came to mind like, where will I work now and all my stuff I left in the office, my Puma's and my CD's. I spent the next two weeks on the phone trying to find out what had happened to my boss Abdu. I heard many, many versions of what had happened to him. Some were that he had gotten out and was staying with a friend. Others were, he was in the hospital and that's why he wasn't heard from and he was okay. I followed every trail and every story and got to the originator of each version and found that each one was false. misinformation and miscommunication is the downfall of our society .My dear friend, Abdu, was missing. I stopped trying to find out what had happened to him when I realized it was time to let go. Soon after, Marriott held meetings. They shared as much information as they had. We were told that if they planned to build a new Hotel, we would have our jobs back, if we wanted them. In October, I got a call from the Marriot Marquis in Times Square. Me and three other associates from the Marriott World Trade Center were offered full-time positions starting immediately. I wasn't sure if I wanted to take the job for fear that I would be reminded of this tragedy daily. I even took graphic arts classes in an attempt to change my livelyhood, but i love what i do. From September 11th to early January, I spent countless nights tossing and turning and having the weirdest nightmares one could ever imagine. It mostly involved falling airplanes crashing all around me. Everywhere I went I imagined airplanes crashing all around me and planned escape routes and thought of worst case scenarios. When driving, I notice license plates that begin with the letters ABU or ADU. Everyday at work, whether I'm coiling cables or tweaking an audio mixer, I 'm constantly reminded of Abdu. I heard from another manager Mahendra that he and Abdu ran up 21 stories and knocked on all the doors and amaizingly people were still sleeping and they woke them up and evacuated the building ,mahendra was on the south side of the building and abdu on the north, abdu gave Mahendra his cell phone and he used the walkie-talkie to communicate with each other(there was a number you could dial to get onto the walkie's frequency). They got to the second floor Abdu tells Mahendra that he is with two guests and two firefighters and they are leaving, then the first tower collapses, crushing the marriott hotel, only part of the corner of the building survives, it consists of a sales office (3rd floor) and a large conference room called the Harvest room (2nd floor-plaza level)when the walls came down Abdu was in the part that was crushed but Mahendra was in harvest room and had debris all over so he and the people he was with got out on a giant pole or beam that had fallen and landed on the second floor reaching to the street level. They climbed on it and crossed it to safety, and soon after the next tower came down as mahendra reached the hudson river. They saved about twelve people that day, i guess no matter where you were , you do what you could do for those who cant. Iv'e seen a book that had everyone that died in it but didnt find Abdu, i guess they didnt do enough research for it. There were times when my friends and family arranged outings where we were all out together . once while driving in the car, I'm in the back seat leaning my head against the windows, tears would begin to fall. I can't stop crying. The footage that the camera man had filmed of me yelling into the walkie-talkie was shown on Television a lot. Some friends have seen it on NBC, NY1. My brother called me one night and told me he just saw the footage on Entertainment tonight. if you want you could visit a link to a time line of events for that day and i come out when the second plane hits and he says the time is 9:02 am, just go to www.msnbc.com/modules/wtc/video/standalone.asp scroll down and look for the picture of the towers burning and click it. My sister Becky told me there's a song by Linkin Park called "Crawling:WTC Tribute" so i download it and the audio from that footage is on it. I have an idea of making a timeline of events of my own using all types of mediums like animation,computer graphics, and scetches using building scematics. Using photo's with video while narrating my perspective and experience. anyway life now is just a never ending attempt to stay sane, or at least seem like it. if you have any questions just email me at junglpoppa@aol.com ciao

A Day of Terror: Tuesday, September 11th, 2001

Denise Campbell
Graduate Student, USC

I arrived in New York late on Monday, September 10th and went straight to the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel. The building address is World Trade Center 3. It is located in the middle of the two towers. When I arrived, around 9:30-10 p.m., the hotel staff put me on the 20th floor, which is the concierge level. I took advantage of what I thought was a benefit and went down the hall from my room to the concierge lounge to get a drink and read a magazine. Things were quite uneventful that night. I wandered back to my room, took a bubble bath, put on my pajamas, set my alarm for 9 the next morning, and called a few people to chat about arrangements for the next few days. I was planning on being in Boston the next evening to pick up one of my dear friends Megan who now attends Harvard. Unfortunately I never made it to Boston. I missed our visit.

The alarm I woke to was much different than that to which I am routinely roused out of bed each morning. I jolted out of bed at the moment the first plane hit tower one and immediately thought I had brought the trend of Richter breaking earthquakes with me from LA. I quickly grabbed my flip-flops out of my suitcase and picked up my purse. My heart was pounding but I was annoyed, not fearful at this time. I started out the door but knew I should call my parents so I stepped into the bathroom and just pulled the cell phone out of the charger and ran. Shoes and purse in hand I got to the stairwell and only noticed a few people following me down. The alarms had just started going off so people were slowly coming out of rooms and down the hall. We started down the stairs with a few people but by the time we got to the ground level there were probably 30 people on their way out together. The Marriott staff were lined up and were telling us in a firm tone to hurry outside due to an accident.

It wasn't until I stepped outside the building (we exited at tower two) that I realized there was glass everywhere. I put my shoes on and looked ahead and noticed people on the other side of the street staring above and behind me. Then, I turned to the right and saw the first building on fire. The uniformed men signaled for our group to run across the street. As we started running and my fear starting setting in the man in uniform screamed "don't look up, run" and then ran himself. A huge noise came--we ran across the street. That was when I heard and saw the second plane hit the building directly above where I was standing. There was concrete evidence that my fear was justified. I started shaking terribly. I can't explain the explosion--other than comparing it to a human fireball. People screaming, the sound of enormous breakage, the smell of smoke. Absolutely terrifying.

Everyone was stunned. It seemed like minutes however I'm sure it was just seconds that the hundreds of people in the street were frozen, all staring up at two burning buildings. This is when we, a frightened group of strangers, all witnessed the people jumping out of buildings afire and falling to their death. A uniform sigh of terror came from the crowds as people jumped alone, in groups--such an unimaginable sight to see. Some speculate that these people were too hot to withstand the fire on the upper floors of the towers. Whatever the case, it was awful to witness. Debris from the plane and building started hurling in all directions.

I ran towards the water. My instinct led me to do so.

As I ran a man beside me lost his right arm to a flying piece of building or plane. He screamed and fell behind. I did not stop. I couldn't.  People were falling down due to injury and possibly to their death. The pieces of building were flying everywhere. You couldn't tell who was hurt or dead. I was afraid. I covered my head with my purse. People were grabbing each other. I grabbed people and people grabbed me. I'm not quite sure why but I held hands with a few strangers in those brief moments. I was screaming. Everyone was screaming. I ran.

I found myself moments later in Battery Park where there were many people on cell phones. It seemed as if no one was able to get through. I slowed to a quick walk and called my parents. They did not answer. My next instinct was to call my old boss because he is originally from New York and I knew he would be able to tell me what to do. I was terrified. Guy answered the phone and I quickly told him I was in Battery Park and that planes were hitting my building (I can't remember details on many of these conversations). I was crying but tried to focus. He told me to go to 61 Broadway (which I'll never forget) and find his brother in suite 1030 on the 10th floor. He also told me to keep focused and get to safety. My phone beeped. I just knew it was my parents. Still in a somewhat hysterical state I answered the phone to hear my best friend Abby on the other line. I was hysterical. She was on the side of the road in Tampa Florida where she had just heard the news on the radio.  She had almost crashed her car and was crying. I cried and screamed and told her I got out of the building and was running to safety. I asked her to call my parents to tell them. I told her I loved her.

I got off the phone with my boss and had a very brief moment to let myself know that it had to be now or never. If I did not stop with the hysterics I might not make it to tell this story. I left my emotion behind and started to run again.

People were everywhere. Running, screaming, injured, crying, a lot of blood and unsightly things that I still cannot talk about. I ran to a police officer and asked him for directions to Broadway. He came in from Brooklyn and could not give me exact directions. I kept running. I believe that I ran in a circle around the same area. It was easy to pinpoint the two infernos--I just wanted to stay away from them.

My pace was slowing to a walk again as I approached a bellhop outside of a hotel. He gave me directions to Broadway but said I should walk in the other direction because Broadway was backtracking towards the trade center. At this point I was determined to make it to the building so I went back. I saw Broadway. I knew I was safe.

As I approached the corner of Broadway I heard a tremendous rumbling. I looked to the right and the tower was falling. I looked to the left across the street and saw 61 Broadway. I made it inside just in time.

There were people in the lobby on the floor. A man yelled for us to get down and cover our face and head. We stayed down, heard noises and screams outside, but we did not move. I crouched in beside a few people and stayed until I saw others move. The air was black outside. There were two exits, one on each side and you could not see out of either. The air inside was becoming foggy. It smelled of jet fuel and powder. A very odd smell.

At this point I was nervous again. My thoughts of safety were over. I didn't know why those planes flew into the building but the people in the lobby seemed to all know it was terrorism for sure. However, that's all we knew. There were many speculations as to what was going to come next--.on ground assault, more planes, bombs--and ultimately that the other building would fall over and crush us. We could not leave. People were coming inside our building because of the air quality and the fear of what was next. We waited.

I tried to use my phone but could not dial. I was shaking too badly. A man next to me asked if I was all right. I told him I was from LA and was by myself. He told me to stick with him and that everything would be okay. He was crying. We were all crying.

Now it was getting hard to see. The air was getting worse and I was still scared. Richard (the man next to me) and his wife were trying to figure out how to escape the building. The new men in charge (Manhattan financial district employees who worked in the building) worked with an off duty uniform man and got water and rags for all of us in the lobby. At this point there were still some people going up to their offices. Not an idea I was even thinking about following. I stayed in the lobby until the air quality was so bad that Richard moved us to a side room. We sat together in a circle and I tried to call my parents and my old boss to let them know I was still okay.

It was at this point that I thought I might not make it through this. Earlier I was outside. Even though the end result would have probably been worse I felt like I had much more control of my situation when I was outside. When we were in the lobby I couldn't see outside. I thought things were going to hit us and crash into us--I felt very claustrophobic and wanted off the island.

Soon we heard a rumbling and the screaming began again. We all huddled around each other and waited. Life was flashing in front of me. People, things, circumstances, songs. I was terrified. I prayed. I thought that maybe another plane hit and that the terrorist were on ground and would be in to get or kill us at any moment.  The rumbling stopped and people came running in. There were injured and non-injured. The police came in to get the injured and then left as they had many more injured outside.

The air was now very dark inside the building. Richard took off his suit jacket and cut it into strips for us all to share. The uniform and businessmen brought us masks to wear. I used the piece of suit jacket, the mask, and scraps that they had passed out. Richard told us to cover our masks with water to prevent as much cement from creeping in. I trusted him fully.

We waited for a while and then the off duty man told us to run to the ferry and get to Staten island. We had waited long enough to know the ferry hadn't been bombed. It had already made a few trips. Fern and I didn't want to leave the building. As claustrophobic as I was I was feeling better about being there. I didn't want to expose myself to whatever was out there.  However, Richard thought it was the right thing to do and I figured he knew what he was talking about so I fell into suit. He made very rational decisions. This was no time to test him just because I was a little nervous. And he was right. We would make it to the pier safely.

We covered our faces, walked outside and started for the pier. It wasn't far away at all. We made it there fairly quickly, got on the pier and grabbed life jackets. I called my parents and told them I was on my way to safety. Richard called a friend and asked if we could all stay with him on Staten Island. We cried as we rode the ferry. I was scared, thankful, relieved, and confused. Not to mention I was still in my pajamas.

We got to Staten Island safely and then took a bus to Barry's house where we all stayed the night. Barry and Kim gave us water, food, and clothing. We sat silently and then used the phone to call loved ones and family.

Later we watched television and for the first time we actually witnessed the trauma we had all gone through together and individually earlier that day. We cried again, but this time out of pain for the victims.

I slept at Barry and Kim's house. They have a son. About 2 I think. Let me correct the way I started this entry. I didn't sleep. Kim gave us some water. She gave me a pair of sweat pants and a tee shirt and I showered to get some of the black soot off of me. It was on my tongue and in my nose and ears. I drank a beer to calm my nerves and we all watched the news. Kind of silent and shaky. Late that night everyone went to bed. They gave me the spare bedroom to sleep. I lay down and stared at the ceiling. There were stars on the ceiling that glowed in the dark. I stared at those stars all night long. I was very paranoid. Any sound or movement jolted me to an upright position. It was a long night. I was embraced by strangers but still felt very alone. I tried not to cry. I hadn't made it to my comfort zone so I didn't want to break down. I didn't know what was ahead for the next days so I kept it together. I softly sang songs to myself. Ones that I know and that comfort me. I prayed. Anything to keep my eyes open until daylight. Fire, death, and smoke kept flashing in front of my eyes.

9-12

I heard voices downstairs. I heard the little boy giggling and the comforting noise of early morning cartoons. I got up and went downstairs. My head was pounding. I realized that I had not had any caffeine since Sunday night. When I travel I drink lots of water. Kim made me coffee. It was the best coffee I have ever had. It got rid of the headache. Still in the borrowed sweat pants and tee shirt I left with Barry and Fern for the store. I bought some pants, shirts, shoes and a suitcase for my travels -- to where I still wasn't sure. I also got a toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, and a few other items. Funny, I didn't even care about size, color, or style. Amazing isn't it? What's really important in life. I realized then that my life would be forever changed. Not just by what I saw and knew I would have to process but also by the day-to-day things that I place importance on. My priorities had changed immensely.

We went back to the house and I showered again and put on my new clothes. I never even looked in the mirror. Richard was talking to Ron on the phone about the train that I would take to get to New Jersey. I pictured seeing Ron and Chase and felt a sense of urgency to get to them. We figured out a plan to get me as far away as possible. The plan was to get to New Jersey as far north as possible so that Ron and Chase could come to get me. The bridges were still closed in many places, which kept Ron from driving into pick me up directly. Kim gave me a roll of quarters and a hug. We were ready to go. I called my parents and told them my plan.

Barry drove us across the Verazano Bridge (from Staten Island to Brooklyn). I was nervous again. We saw people all around with blank expressions on their faces. It was like a city of robots. Expressionless and amazed at the view of the new city. Richard was trying to calm me by teaching me the differences between New York accents. He said the easiest way to remember the Brooklyn accent was to take a regular New York phrase like "Do you have some coffee?" and add a "fuck you" at the beginning and "asshole" at the end. So the phrase becomes "fuck you, do you have some coffee, asshole?"  Terrible maybe, but it was my first laugh since Monday the 10th. A good laugh, and I thought I did it pretty well.

We got out of the car in Brooklyn at a subway entrance. I shifted back to a nervous shake. I looked at Richard in question and he quickly told me the only way to get out of this whole situation was for me to go back into Manhattan to catch the train. I was mortified. I also knew it was the only way. Again, I stopped the tears and followed behind him into the underground.

Richard paid for my subway ticket and we got on. Richard and Fern had to get off before I did so he (Richard) wrote down my directions on a piece of scrap paper. I was nervous. I sat in the middle of Richard and Fern. We were close to each other, just like the day before. I knew when they got off the subway I would be scared. We met some people with dust on their shoes and knew they had been in lower Manhattan the day before. A sweet girl said that she would see me to my next stop. Richard seemed to like her and trust her so he left me in her hands. I gave them both a huge hug and cried a small thank you. Words didn't seem close to the thanks that I felt in my heart. Forever they would be close friends. They departed and wished me luck.

The new friend took me the rest of the way on the subway--until I decided that I needed to get off immediately. I was still thinking earthquakes and was very scared that the underground system would not be able to withstand the jarring from the attack the day before. We exited at grand central station and she gave me a few options. She said I could take the path train, which goes underground through the Holland tunnel. That was a definite no. She also said I could take the bus from the port authority, which also went underground through the Holland tunnel. Another definite no. Finally, music to my ears. She said I could take the ferry to south Hoboken New Jersey. A perfect idea. It was a long walk but I didn't care at all.

Red book-bag and mini suitcase in hand and thanked her for her advice and help, hugged her, cried again and said goodbye.

The walk to the ferry was strange. The first time I had been by myself since finding my angels the morning before. It was so quiet. There were probably about 10 people on the street from the subway all the way to the ferry. Nobody was talking. There were police at every corner. And if you turned around to look behind you all you could see was the smoke billowing where the two towers stood just over 24 hours ago. I was frightened and although I was exhausted I walked hard and quick in hopes to get off the island again.

I got to the ferry and bought my ticket to south Hoboken where I would then take a train as far north as possible. I called my parents to tell them that I was back in Manhattan but would soon be gone for good. Not planning a trip back there any time soon. While I was on the phone with my parents I heard them call my ferry. I got off the phone and walked out to the slip to board. At that time I saw the trucks and gestures coming from the men already aboard the ferry. That ferry was not to be used for live passengers. It was to be used to transport bodies out of Manhattan. Strangers all watched in silence as they brought the truck of blue body bags across to the ferry. We cried in reverence for them--each of us imagining how they died--and being thankful for our own lives at the same time. I was devastated. We were all devastated. The tears came again.

I called my parents back. I needed to hear their voices. It was so quiet--the only noise was the water breaking on the ferry dock and the footsteps of the men making the transport. They weren't even talking. No one was talking. Soon, the ferry that was for regular passenger transport was back. It was time to go. I was so relieved to get on the boat. I made a new friend. This lady was an older motherly figure. She sat with me on the upper level of the ferry and we talked about the day before. She was on her way home to Hoboken. I was on my way home too--just had a little longer trip ahead of me.

We sat together and looked across the water as we passed lower Manhattan and stared in disbelief. How did something so small get out of that inferno alive. I felt an ache of relief, thanks, and pain all together.  Again, everyone on the ferry was silent.

We arrived in South Hoboken in about 30-40 minutes. I felt safer again. This new motherly friend took me to the train station. She called Ron with me and helped him figure out where they could pick me up. We chatted and stood in line for tickets. They were free. There was no charge for any train travel that day. A nice gesture for those who had lost their belongings. I said goodbye to my helpful friend and boarded the train. Alone again -- but only for a moment.

I sat by a nice woman who was a nurse. She was going home after a long shift over 24 hours. She was tired. I was tired. We connected. We both had concrete dust on our shoes and bags under our eyes. We rode the train to Dover for about an hour and a half. We talked a lot about what had happened and how we felt. I was beginning to feel the shell shock. I was overloaded. I didn't know how to feel.

I saw the Dover station and felt a sense of relief. I was finally going to be home. A home I had never seen before but one that I knew I would feel most comfortable in.

I said a teary goodbye to the new friend I had been talking to and walked down the stairs of the train station to the parking lot. Ron and Chase pulled in just as I got there. My first sign of real relief. I could let my guard down a notch. The tears came easily and quietly. Ron embraced me, sat me in the front seat, and we drove away in tears.

We drove to the Poconos. Again, there was a silence. This time though it was a comforting silence. I was in the hands of old friends. Good friends.

The mountains were beautiful. Ron and Chase live in a small cabin that resembles a mountain lodge. Just perfect for healing the soul. I let my muscles relax. We were greeted by an auburn cocker spaniel Aubry. Just what I needed. I nuzzled and loved him. He was my new therapeutic friend.

Chase put my new luggage in the spare bedroom. A perfect cozy room.

My first diet coke. A huge Texas size glass full of ice and soda. Just what I needed. I called my parents to tell them I had made it a step further and was feeling much better and could now start processing the events of the day before.

Ron walked outside with me. Just the sound of crickets in the background while we talked. Ron was amidst the Kent State Shootings so has been eye to eye with death before. Although the situation was much different he knew how I was feeling. Also, being my theatre director, Ron knows how I think and how visual I am.

This is where the therapy starts--the road to recovery.

Marriott Survivor:

Brad Geyer

To be posted

Hotel Guests Have New Perspectives on
Where to Stay After Sept. 11

By Randy Diamond, The Record, Hackensack, N.J.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Jun. 28--It may be in a high-rise hotel with spectacular views, but Leigh Gilmore would be more than happy if her next hotel room were on the first or second floor. 

Who could blame her? 

The Chicago travel company account executive was staying on Sept. 11 in the 22-story Marriott World Trade Center Hotel, which was between the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. She came within 90 seconds of her death on Sept. 11, the minute and a half representing the time between when she got out of the hotel and when the building was partially crushed by the falling south tower. 

She's not the only traveler worried about hotel safety. 

Mike Kelly of Ramsey hasn't had any hotel near-death experiences, but the former frequent business traveler worked in the World Trade Center seven years ago, and the events of Sept. 11 have made him nervous about staying in high-rise lodging establishments. So nervous that the Manhattan executive found a new job after Sept. 11 that cut the dozens of nights he used to stay in hotels to only a few. 

On the occasions he does stay in a hotel, Kelly always asks for a low floor, something he never previously considered. 

"If I have my choice, I want a room on a lower floor close to the exit," he says. "I feel less vulnerable." 

Kelly and Gilmore said they never used to think of the issue of safety in hotels. 

Gilmore says now she will not only make sure she's on a low floor, but also make sure her hotel has a sprinkler system and an evacuation plan. 

Since Sept. 11, this trend of safety consciousness has spread nationwide. The experience of Gilmore's company, Maritz Travel, is one example. It books hotel stays for business travelers working for many corporations. Gilmore said corporate travel managers are insisting that their employees be booked only in hotels with sprinkler systems and adequate emergency plans. 

A poll of 500 frequent business travelers earlier this year by SafePlace, a Delaware company that accredits hotels that meet safety guidelines, found 94 percent of the travelers said they consider safety as an important factor when selecting a hotel. 

But while more travelers are concerned about hotel safety, the terrorist attacks have also confused the issue. 

Gilmore says she would be dead if she had followed the advice of a loudspeaker announcement at the Marriott after the first plane hit the North Tower, telling her to stay in her room. "I'm not alive because of Marriott," said an angry Gilmore. 

Glenn Corbett, a professor of fire safety at John Jay College in New York, said mid- and high-rise buildings are often not evacuated in emergency situations because stairways have not been designed to handle a mass exodus. Evacuations, for example, in the case of fire are usually confined to the fire floor and several floors above and below it, if the building has a sprinkler system that can confine the blaze, he said. 

The World Trade Center Marriott Hotel was not hit by either of the two planes that attacked the Twin Towers. Instead, it collapsed partially after being hit by the falling south tower, with the 110-story mass of the north tower finishing the job and turning the hotel into a pile of rubble. 

Gilmore said everyone on her floor, the sixth floor, ignored the announcement to stay in place and evacuated the hotel. Gilmore, who is disabled and can't walk, said she wanted to do the same, but the passenger elevators were turned off and she couldn't navigate her motorized wheelchair down the six stories. 

"I must have told between 30 and 60 people, 'Would you do me a favor, tell them a woman is in a wheelchair on the sixth floor,"' she recalled. 

She said the guests promised they would, but 40 minutes later she was still in a hallway on the sixth floor with her mother, who was also a guest, waiting for help. 

Gilmore said finally two maintenance men arrived on her floor looking surprised that anyone was still in the hotel. She said the maintenance men took her, her mother, and another guest, who had been too afraid to evacuate, down to the lobby in a freight elevator. 

It was just in time. Gilmore and her mother were only several blocks from the hotel when it partially collapsed. 

"If there was anything resembling an evacuation plan, it certainly never initiated," she said. 

In a first-person account last September, another hotel guest, Bloomberg News reporter Andrew Ward, told how he left his 17th-floor room after the first plane hit, banging on doors and telling other guests to ignore the emergency warning system, which "kept telling us to stay in our rooms." 

Eleven hotel guests and two hotel employees died, though it is unclear whether all the guests died in the hotel or if they were in other parts of the World Trade Center complex. Marriott International spokesman Roger Conner said the chain was aware of Gilmore's comments, but could not respond to them. He said the hotel implemented an evacuation plan and that 900 guests and employees successfully left the hotel. He said he could not go into specifics. 

Corbett, who has testified before a congressional committee investigating the Twin Towers collapse, said the irony in the trade center tragedy is that some people who ignored announcements that they didn't have to evacuate lived, and those who followed instructions died. 

He said the policy of not fully evacuating high-rise buildings in emergency situations is being debated because of the World Trade Center tragedy. Future building codes may require new high-rise buildings to have wider stairways, elevators that are fire-resistant, and other enhanced safety features, he says. 

But that's the future. What should the business traveler do on his or her next trip? 

Corbett said the trade center incident was a unique event, hopefully one that will not be repeated. 

He said in a more likely emergency, such as fire, he would follow instructions to stay in place, especially if a hotel has a sprinkler system throughout the building. 

"The chance of dying in a fully sprinkled building is about zero," he said. 

But ultimately he said people do have to go with their gut. 

He said if you decide to make a run for it, you should make sure your room door is not hot before entering the hallway. In all cases, he said, remember to bring your room key, so you can get back in your room if flames or smoke are too intense. 

If trapped in a room, Corbett suggests calling the local fire department and telling them what room you are stuck in. 

He also suggests making yourself familiar with where the exits are upon checking into a hotel, and counting the room doors from your room to the exit door, just in case you are forced to navigate the hallway without lights. 

As for staying on high floors, Corson says he wouldn't have reservations in a building with a fire sprinkler system. But he says to take into account your limitations, and if you have problems getting around, then by all means go for a lower floor. 

That's what Gilmore says she will do. 

"I want to be as close to the ground as possible," she says. 

-----To see more of The Record, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.NorthJersey.com. 

(c) 2002, The Record, Hackensack, N.J. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. MAR, 

Marriott Survivor: Room 609

Hans Kunnen
Head of Investment Markets Research

I write this from a personal perspective. At 8.45am on September 11, 2001, I was sitting in a National Association of Business Economists Conference on the ground floor of the World Trade Centre Marriott Hotel, which was at the base of the North Tower.

When the first plane hit, all we felt was a dull thud, then, a moment later, the sound of a seemingly distant explosion. I thought it was earthquake, as the lights and tables shook. Within moments, people headed for the doors, running for their lives.

I didn't recall it at that the time, but it wasn't the first time the WTC had been attacked. After a minute or so there only three of us left in the room. We wandered out to see what had happened.

As I emerged into the hotel lobby, dishevelled and frightened people streamed into the foyer seeking shelter. They were shocked and some were injured. Some people, who had been outside when the first plane hit, were burned by jet fuel and showered by debris.

I knew this was the end my stay, so I went to the lifts to go to my room and retrieve my luggage. However, as the alarms were sounding, I was refused entry, and politely asked to leave the complex.

I walked outside toward the Hudson River, and saw a shower of burning paper swirling in the wind, and a streetscape that resembled a war zone. It was. It was strewn with rubble, assorted debris and burning cars.

I looked up to where smoke belched from the North Tower. But as I gasped in awe at the horror, the air was filled with the deafening roar of jet engines. I watched horrified and unbelieving as this second plane approached and slammed into the upper floors of the South Tower. Flame, smoke and glass erupted. Bodies and debris were blown out of the building and rained down.

From that moment, I did not look back. It was time to get away. My mind raced: Were more planes were coming? Where would safety be found?

I'd taken the Staten Island ferry from Battery Point, about 700 metres south, on the previous Saturday, so I fast-walked to the wharf. It seemed the best alternative at the time. There I joined thousands of others attempting to escape the carnage and whatever else might be about to follow. Suddenly, just as the ferry boarding gates opened, there erupted a thunderous noise.

People screamed. I thought the city was being attacked yet again, and this time I thought I might die. It was the South Tower collapsing. As we took our places on the ferry, smoke, ash and dust billowed toward us, enveloping the ferry; people donned life jackets.

As a Christian, I thought I would be welcomed if knocked on the door of a church in Staten Island and asked for help. But, amazingly, and in the spirit of care and goodwill that immediately enveloped New Yorkers in the wake of the tragedy, a complete stranger, Leslie Castelucci, who was standing near me on the ferry, asked me (and three others) to join her family at their home until things were sorted out.

The Casteluccis and their neighbours gave me clothing, and took me in as if I were a family member. I weep as I remember her act of kindness.

Meanwhile, my wife, Suzanne, was at home in Sydney. She was awoken by her mother when the first plane hit and, in the cold dark hours following, watched live on television as the second plane hit and the towers collapsed. Our three children, thankfully, remained asleep, unaware of my peril.

Suzanne, of course, knew I was in New York, and vaguely recalled me mentioning the World Trade Centre. She rang some workmates to ask, and the confirmed the conference location. When she heard nothing from me, she began to fear the worst. A friend came round for company, and she and others prayed for my safety. But mostly she sat in silent horror as she watched the drama and its aftermath replayed over and again.

I knew I was safe, but she didn't. It was almost four hours after the attack that I was able to contact her, at about 2.30am (Australian Eastern Standard Time). The day had been bad for me, but for Suzanne, it was a nightmare.

Two days later, I headed back into Manhattan, to a hotel close to the Australian Consulate. I'd lost my passport, airline tickets, cash, clothing and other personal effects in the inferno, although I did still have my wallet.

But even that wasn't without drama. Paranoia and extraordinary security were apparent everywhere. As my bus approached the New Jersey Turnpike, a major road into Manhattan, it was halted in a traffic jam. We were told to dismount and find our own way into the city. Just as I alighted, a police car with sirens screaming pulled over a car just 20 metres from me. Three policemen jumped out, and at gunpoint ordered the driver out, a shotgun held under his nose. Just above the suburban rooftops, a police chopper, hovered.

It was like a scene from a police drama. Having survived September 11, I didn't want to die in shootout with either a car thief or terrorist, so I ducked behind a big green Lincoln. But within a few minutes the hapless motorist (he must have inadvertently run a road block) was released and we all went on our way.

With the bus a no-goer, I switched modes of transport to rail, eventually making it to Grand Central Station, the world's largest, in the middle of Manhattan. Again I was met by police, this time with megaphones, asking us not to panic but to leave the building as there was a bomb threat in the station!

As if my nerves weren't frayed enough!

Having organised a new passport and bought a few new clothes I waited for the airports to reopen. I gave blood. I went to church. I wandered through Central Park and watched TV. I cried and I prayed. I dwelt on Psalm 25 and thanked God for keeping me safe. New York was a hurt and sorrowing place.

It was a week before I finally flew into Sydney and with tears flowing once again wrapped my arms around my much relieved family.

And what do I make of it now, in retrospect?

Well, I've come to appreciate that any minute might be my last. And if that's the case, I need recognise the continuing need to "be right" with my family, my friends and, mostly, with God. Without being crippled by morbid thoughts, I now try to be more caring toward others and try to make the most of opportunities I'm afforded.

On September 11, 2001, I almost lost my life, my wife and my children. But I realise that in this dangerous and uncertain world, where everyone, it seems, is a target, I could lose them tomorrow. So, every day, I thank God for them, and despite a busy and demanding career, I try to give them all more of my attention and time.

WTC Marriott: 20 Guests Missing, 2 Employees

By Melissa A. Winn

The Marriott World Trade Center Hotel in New York City, destroyed in the September 11 terror attacks, is still missing two employees and approximately 20 guests. USAE has confirmed that the two Marriott employees are Joseph Keller, Director of Services and Abdu Malahi, a 37-year-old from Yemen, who worked in the audio-visual department at the hotel.

Though Marriott employees would not release the names or positions of the missing employees, Joseph Spinnato, president of the Hotel Association of New York City, Inc., sent a memo to all general managers of member hotels saying, "We regret to inform you that Joe Keller, Director of Services for the Marriott World Trade Center, was one of the victims of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center."

Lucy Bossert, spokesperson for Marriott International Inc., told USAE that the company had not been asked by the families to release the names of the employees and that their obligation was to protect the privacy of those families.

"What we can say," Bossert said, "is that we are missing two associates that are valued and loved members of our families and that our thoughts are with their families and the families of all victims of this tragic event."

J.W. Marriott, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International addressed the matter in a recent company release, saying "The terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania have been tragic events for our country and for the world. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and loved ones affected by this horrific event. Two of our hotels in downtown New York City were directly impacted and we mourn the loss of two dedicated associates still counted among the missing. I was very proud of the heroic job our teams at the hotels did in evacuating guests. We are doing everything possible to support our affected associates and guests during this difficult time."

Bossert did confirm to USAE that approximately 20 guests of the World Trade Center hotel are also among the missing.

"Sadly, it appears that some of our guests are missing," Bossert said.

She explained that since September 11 the number of guests missing, reported by families and friends, has fluctuated and decreased since the initial days. In the last few days, she explained, the number has also decreased and it now appears about 20 guests is correct, though Marriott "is hoping the number will continue to decrease."

Amy Loe, 23, who was working the front desk at the hotel, told the New York Daily News that the last time she saw Marriott’s Joe Keller, was when he was trapped in the center of the lobby with two injured firemen. Keller was calling for help on a walkie-talkie.

"I’m alive. I’m here with two firemen who are really badly hurt," he was saying.

"He was only 10 feet away," Loe said. "I can’t believe I got out and he didn’t."

Keller leaves behind a wife, Rose Keller, 29, and two children, including a 6-month-old daughter Sydnie.

"He was the breadwinner," Keller told the Daily News. "I was home with the kids. Now it’s me and the kids. I’ve got to worry about everything."

A memorial service for Mr. Keller will be held on Saturday, October 20, at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of the Annunciation in Paramus, New Jersey.

 

 

Donn Monroe (hotel guest - NABE)

My name is Donn Monroe, and I was fortunate to survive the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. I was in town on business and was staying at the Marriott hotel for five days leading up to September 11, 2001. I was due to leave for Detroit that morning and woke at 8am to call my daughter to wish her a happy birthday. I then watched some TV and went to take a shower at around 8:45. As I was getting into the shower, I heard a loud "BOOM" and the building shook. Being a New York native, I knew there was no history of earthquakes in the area, so I was puzzled. But I went ahead into the shower anyway.

Those of you who were there will remember that the fire alarm sounded shortly after the first blast. I heard this alarm but was covered with soap in the shower. While I was rinsing off, I heard an announcement come over the loud speaker. I could not hear the words over the shower, but I remember that after the announcement the alarm was turned off. So I assumed the announcement was to ignore the alarm. I didn't know it was a message to leave the hotel immediately. So while guests were leaving the hotel, I leisurely left the shower, shaved, brushed my teeth and began ironing clothes and packing for my trip to Detroit. It was at that time that the second plane blasted into the Towers again. I looked out the window and saw the devastation in the courtyard. I turned on the TV and saw what was happening in the news. But still, I didn't think the towers would fall. So I continued packing my luggage and getting dressed. I called family members to let them know I was ok, and then decided to wait for my limo to arrive at 10:30.

I continued to watch the news until I heard shouting in the hallway. I opened my door, and there was a hotel employee who was running floor to floor, trying to make sure all guests had evacuated. He told me to leave immediately, and I remember a woman opened her door across the hall from me and listened to him also. However, she had on her robe and closed her door. She didn't follow me. The hotel employee took me to the stairs, told me to run down and leave, and then he went back shouting for more guests. The time was around 9:35. I don't know if he made it out because we were on the 14th floor and he still had more floors to go. I went down the stairs and passed a man who believed he pulled a hamstring on the 4th floor. He was heavyset and I couldn't help him alone. So I told him I would get help. When I got down to the mezzanine level, there were around 30 firefighters and policemen there. I told them about the man, and they ran quickly to get him. They also told me to run from the building. I went outside where a police officer told me to run zig zag across the street. I did so as debris and bodies fell around me.

I started to go south and stopped a cab to take me to the airport. The driver told me the airports were closed and asked if I wanted to go anywhere else. I said no and started to walk further southward while the cab drove beside the South Tower, stuck in traffic. I took a few pictures of the towers smoking and then heard a loud rumble as the first tower began to fall. That cab was stuck. I was a block away at this point and thought the building was falling over. I figured I was dead and just froze. But the crowd around me starting running, and I got swept up in the crowd. I ran quickly south to Battery Park and was soon engulfed in the smoke. Two things concerned me immediately: we were obviously under attack, and everyone who was trained in emergency procedures and could lead us just died in that collapse. So the few hundred of us stranded in Battery Park were on our own. I bellied up to the fence that separated us from the river, put my house keys in my pocket (I still had my luggage, by the way), and waited for the sounds of bombs to drop, at which time I was going to jump in the river and swim for it. The smoke was thick and it was difficult to breathe. People had taken off their shirts and were breathing through them. A delivery truck driver was opening cases of DaSani water and passing them out, and everyone was sharing the water. After about 20 minutes, ferries from New Jersey began pulling up to rescue us. I was right in front of the first ferry, and someone helped me climb the fence with my luggage as I got on that ferry. As I sat there, noticing that the smoke was dissipating, there was a loud rumble, people started screaming, and the smoke started coming back heavy again. That's when we knew that the second tower had fallen.

The ferry then left for NJ where I walked around, talking to strangers and finally finding a room at a dive hotel (one of those places where rooms are rented by the hour). I remember the person behind the bullet-proof glass at this hotel asking me what I wanted, and when I told her I wanted a room for a day, she turned and asked the other person back there, "How much do we charge for a whole day?" Anyway, I bought a bottle of champagne and a six-pack of beer from the front desk, turned on the television, and was glued to the news until 3am when I finally forced myself to rest. The next day, I connected with co-workers who also survived the attack, we rented a coach bus (the type used by rock stars), and we traveled back to Dallas on Thursday.

Laurie Torene (hotel attendee - NABE)

CROFTON - Buzz was watching television in an auto repair shop. George had walked his poodles and was cleaning house. Bob was on the golf course. Kathleen was teaching her fourth-grade class. It was another Tuesday in Crofton - one that started out as safe, snug and serene as any other day in this planned suburban Maryland community, its entrance marked by brick walls, white iron gates and a duck pond. But, just as if you were to drop a rock into that pond, the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon would send ripples through Crofton, as in towns across America, with ever-widening circles of people realizing that, if they didn't personally know any victims, they weren't many steps removed from someone who did. In Crofton, like everywhere else, connections - close and distant - would surface; some immediately, some gradually. Some may still lay ahead. Buzz Zinn would learn that a friend, Ann Judge, travel office manager for the National Geographic Society, was a passenger on the flight that struck the Pentagon. George Laboissonniere would find out that his third cousin, television producer David Angell, was a passenger on the first airliner to strike the World Trade Center. Bob Torene would hear that his wife, attending a business conference in the World Trade Center complex, escaped unharmed. And Kathleen Depman, awaiting word from her husband, at work in the Pentagon, would try to stay focused on her class at Crofton Woods Elementary School. "It seems like everybody you talk to knows of somebody who has some connection," said Laurie Torene, who ran from the Marriott at the World Trade Center when the first plane hit, eventually making her way home via ferry boat and U-Haul truck. "It's like `six degrees of separation.' " Actually, it's even less. That popular belief - supported by some scientific studies - holds that anyone on earth can be linked to anyone else by a chain of only six other people. Lumping together those who worked in the Pentagon and World Trade Center, who were on the airliners and who were in the immediately at-risk areas - probably around 50,000 people - and assuming each had 100 friends and relatives, the degree of separation between an American and someone involved in the tragedy is less than two. Looking just at the more than 6,000 presumed dead, the degree of separation would be less than three. As with the Vietnam War, AIDS, or any event or phenomenon involving tens of thousands of people, nearly everyone in the country knows someone, or someone who knows someone, who was affected. And the odds increase in certain smaller circles, such as people living in New York City or Washington, D.C. Others, meanwhile, having not heard of a personal connection yet, worry they still might; that as thousands of bodies are discovered and identified, a name from their past will show up on the list of victims: high school friend, prom date, college buddy, baby sitter. "Everybody is probably only two or fewer handshakes away," said Steven H. Strogatz, a Cornell University professor of theoretical and applied mathematics who has studied what is also called the "small world phenomenon." "Perhaps one of every 50 Americans knows somebody who was either a casualty or escaped, and pretty much everybody knows somebody who knows somebody," he said. "It's significant in terms of how close we all are to the horror. If it happens to your friend, that's the most horrible thing of all. If it happens to a friend of a friend, people still have a pretty clear concept of it. But a friend of a friend of a friend is really pretty meaningless to us. "The cutoff between two and three handshakes is right where this tragedy has occurred," Strogatz added. "It's on the intimate side of the psychological cutoff, and that might be part of why it's so upsetting - that and the fact that we all have a friend in the television, and in that way we're all connected to everything." Even in a community as insular as Crofton, insulating oneself is impossible - not just from television images, but from some sort of connection to the tragedy, even if it is one, two, or even more degrees removed. No one who lives in Crofton is believed to have been killed in the attacks. And despite being heavily populated with government, military and intelligence workers, there were no reports of any serious injuries among its residents. Still, this small unincorporated community, where they once locked the gates at night and where flags fly year-round, was far from untouched. At Crofton Woods Elementary, fifth-grader Jonathan Harkey, 10, learned that he lost a distant cousin he'd never met: Brooklyn firefighter Timothy Stackpole, 42, whose body was recovered last week. "He had been watching TV, but when we heard this he was very upset - to the point of tears," his grandmother, Pat Stamato, said. "Even with a cousin he's never met, it's a connection. It brings it home." At Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, about 120 residents showed up for a vigil the night of the attack, and the church was filled Sunday as well, said the Rev. John Fregger. At least one church member was working at the Pentagon when it was struck, and escaped. And church secretary Karen Kasner's daughter-in-law's cousin, Tara Creamer, 30, of Worcester, Mass. - who Kasner remembers meeting once at a wedding - was on the first American Airlines jet that struck the World Trade Center, the same one church member Laboissonniere's cousin was on. The attacks made Crofton's patriotic bent even more visible. Its streets are filled with flags now - the K-Mart sold all 300 it had in stock that Tuesday and is awaiting more - but "most of those flags are normally there," said Rev. Fregger. "That's just Crofton. That's who we are." Richard R. Trunnell, a local attorney and president of the Crofton Civic Association, said the community is putting together a patriotic concert - "something uplifting"- next weekend in response to a tragedy that, directly or indirectly, seems to have touched everybody. Trunnell's best friend's wife works for a doctor whose brother was a pilot of one of the airliners that struck the World Trade Center. His neighbor, who works in intelligence, knew six Pentagon workers who were killed. And his secretary's stepsister was exchanging instant messages with a friend in the World Trade Center when the plane hit and the messages stopped. "We call ourselves the safest community in Anne Arundel County," said Trunnell, a father of two who was celebrating his 10th anniversary two days after the attack. "But then one day we wake up, and realize maybe crime's not our biggest issue." Buzz Zinn, 67, woke up on the morning of Sept. 11 and took his car in for repairs. A Korean War veteran and resident of Crofton since the 1960s, he was sitting in the waiting room when the news bulletins came on television. He broke down and cried on the way home, he said, but the next day the attack took on still another dimension for him. "I was watching the news Wednesday night when her name came up on the screen," he said. Although he hadn't seen Ann Judge in eight years, he used to visit her monthly at the National Geographic Society as part of his job in the sales and marketing department of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. "She had a big heart, and she would always take time to see me," Zinn said last week, wearing an American flag T-shirt as he took his daily three-mile walk along the Crofton Parkway. She used to give him National Geographic publications for his grandchildren, and she once gave him an atlas, he said, crying as he recalled it. At home, after he clipped a short story from the newspaper about her death, he placed it inside the atlas. George Laboissonniere, who comes from a big family in a small state, answered a phone call from his sister in Rhode Island Tuesday morning and turned the television on. He was worried about a first cousin, whose husband works near the World Trade Center. Later that day, returning home from a church vigil, he learned from his sister that the first cousin's husband was unharmed, but that his third cousin, David Angell, and his wife had been killed on the first plane to strike the World Trade Center. Angell, originally from Rhode Island, was the producer of Frasier and other television shows. "The last time I saw him was probably 35 years ago. We weren't that close, but it's still a relative, and someone I knew as a child," said Laboissonniere, a retired supervisor for the Washington Transit Authority. "Watching on TV is one thing, but when you realize someone you knew, a blood relative of yours, was killed, then you start trying to imagine what they were thinking and what was going on. It makes it much more personal." Bob Torene knew his wife was attending a conference near the World Trade Center, but he didn't know what was happening there. While he was on the golf course, Laurie Torene was standing in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel at the World Trade Center. "There was a loud clunk, like a big steel girder was hitting the building, then there were these deep yawning noises," she said. She and two co-workers from the U.S. Census Bureau in Suitland tried to run out the front door, but were turned back because debris was falling from above. They escaped out a side door and headed toward the river. As she tried to call her husband, unsuccessfully, on the cell phone, she heard an aircraft, looked up and saw it crash into the second tower of the World Trade Center. As they neared the Staten Island Ferry, she heard another boom as the first tower collapsed. "On the ferry you couldn't see anything for a while because smoke was surrounding everything. And once it cleared, I didn't look back. I couldn't. I didn't want to see." Knowing her husband was playing golf, she was able to call the pro shop from the ferry on a cell phone and pass on word that, though she had to leave her luggage behind, she was safe. She made it home the next day, after she and two co-workers, unable to find a rental car, rented a U-Haul truck for $300 and drove back to Maryland. She stayed home from work Thursday and again on Friday. "I've just sort of cocooned since I got back." Kathleen Depman spent part of Tuesday morning not knowing what was going on, and part of it knowing. Not knowing was better. It wasn't until about 10:30 a.m. that a school secretary called her out of class and into the hallway to tell her that her daughter and sister had both called to say they were concerned about her husband, David Depman. "I asked what they were concerned about," Mrs. Depman said. The secretary told her that airliners had hit both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, where her husband, a Navy commander, works in intelligence. She left class and tried to call. "All I got were those crazy busy signals where it keeps buzzing very quickly." She returned to her class of fourth-graders and taught until the lunch break, when she tried to call again. All she could get was voicemail. During lunch, the principal announced to students that planes had hit buildings in New York City and Washington, and assured the students they were safe. Throughout the afternoon, parents arrived to remove children from school, and Depman did her best to reassure the children that remained. "I didn't tell them that I was worried. I figured it was best to follow the regular routine," said Depman, 36. "I hadn't seen anything that was on TV by then, and it's probably better that I hadn't." Depman said she was putting a science videotape into the classroom VCR - her back to the door - when she felt a tug at her shoulder. It was David Depman. He had been inside the Pentagon, about one corridor away, when the plane hit. He saw a wall buckle. He assisted a co-worker to the Pentagon courtyard, where he was told to leave. Having left his car keys in his office, Depman, 40, began hitchhiking. Four rides later, he was dropped off at Crofton Woods Elementary. "Thank God," the principal said when Depman, in uniform, walked into the school. As he headed toward his wife's classroom, a parent volunteer who was monitoring the halls tried to stop him. He kept walking. "I said, `I'm Commander Depman, and I'm going to see my wife in the 4th grade.' " The Depmans hugged in the classroom and, later, went home to be with their teen-age son and daughter. They put up their flag. They watched TV. They answered phone calls. They learned that David's brother, who works for a telecommunications company, had found out that his boss was a passenger on the plane that hit the Pentagon. They learned that Kathleen's sister's husband had a friend who was a passenger on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. By the end of the day, the world had gotten a lot scarier. And a lot smaller.

Marriott Survivor: Room 1526

Bill C Vaughan
Senior Research Manager

We were in Room 1526, which looked out over West Street, about halfway between the main elevator and the stairs leading down to Tall Ships. The pictures I've seen of the South Tower falling on the Marriott lead me to believe it sliced right though our room.

When I read stories such as yours on the website, I'm struck by how incredibly fortunate Laurel and I were. We were not separated during the attack. Laurel had just left our room to work out at the Spa on the top floor. We subsequently learned from Marriott corporate headquarters that a wheel from the first plane went throught the roof of the Marriott and crashed into the pool at the spa. She was waiting for the elevator overlooking the plaza when the first plane struck. I was having my coffee looking out over West Street.

After the explosion as the building swayed, I thought we might have had an earthquake, or an industrial accident, but quickly thought it must have been a bomb. I threw the door open to find Laurel, fearing that here elevator had crashed, and there she was running back to the room to me. Running back to the room to try to get what we could, as the alarms sounded immediately and we could smell smoke and hear debris hitting the building, I said to Laurel, "I thing that was a bomb." She replied, "No it was an airplane. I heard the engine...I think it was a commercial jet. I saw flames and smoke coming down into the plaza." After trying in vain to get our room safe open (Laurel had some jewelry there), I grabbed my wallet and said, "We have to get out--forget the safe--maybe we'll get it later." So off we dashed, the adrenaline shaking though our legs, not really knowing what was waiting for us. We took the side stairs closest to West Street. The only people we saw on the side stairs was a couple carrying their bags. We urged them along with us and, I think they were with us all the way to the street. We were some of the last guests to leave the Marriott.

By the time we got down to the plaza, we nearly walked out onto the plaza, where I believe we would have been killed or seriously injured. We were stopped at the last moment by a hotel employee who directed us down one more flight to exit out the Tall Ships doors on Liberty. We were immediately told to run and not look up as we crossed West Street. We somehow were spared the carnage and horror on West Street to our right, but were exposed to the horror of the North Tower as we turned to look. I remember the air filled with paper and the bizarre carnival-like atmosphere on the street. Horror, shock, unbelieving, false bravado, crying, laughing, shrieking. All range of human reaction to a scene too immediate and nightmarish to really understand. We, the fortunate ones, bore witness to unbelievable and non-blinking events only several hundred feet above and beyond us. There was nothing anyone could do but stand and watch, or turn away. I remember feeling small pieces of debris peppering my hair and something wet landed on the side of my face. So many strange sights and sounds. Bodies falling amid the air of paper--toilet paper streaming out in ribbons down the side of the building along with the rest. The sound of glass shattering, and my immediate comprehension that windows were bowing out from on high--the result of the intense heat. It was about six months later that I processed that the sound I was hearing was bodies crashing though the glass roofs of the North Tower.

As we stood at West and Liberty, the second plane came in over our right shoulders and we, like everyone else ran for cover, any cover. I hear today that wave of moan work its way from Wall Street down Church and Liberty over the thousands of us as we try to comprehend one nightmare plowing into and overriding the previous one. Time becoming meaningless. Contact with loved ones would have to wait. Still some people on the street trying to keep the appearance of calm as they ducked under an awning to nonchalantly talk in their cell phones. Being stopped by a Japanese TV News crew who had already set up shop--and not really being able to bring up words to express it--simply moving on. Joggers and recreational bicyclists doggedly, and in the unique New York fashion, nonplussed. Determined to finish their morning workout even as they maneuvered like slightly annoyed salmon, towards the burning towers between the thousands of us streaming in the other direction and gapping in disbelief. The street and sidewalks littered with hundreds and hundreds of high-heels abandoned for stocking feet. Cars driven up on the sidewalk, small groups huddled with radios blaring, "another one is on the way--six are unaccounted for..." A relentless speeding blur of all manner of cars, trucks and motorcycles, carrying responders in, their faces and eyes only momentarily in focus before speeding by. The sound of every type of alarm imaginable all at once and uninterrupted. And, of course, that cruel blue sky, so sharp against the black smoke and red flames.

We ran as far as the Hudson and were considering jumping in when we decided--seemingly on instinct--to turn right, (North) and head uptown towards my elderly Aunt and Uncle's apartment near the GW Bridge. Thus we were about 5 or 6 blocks away when the South tower came down and were upwind of the debris cloud. For some time, as we ran, then trotted, then walked up West Street, Laurel would say to me, "We'll get back into our room, don't you think? Maybe tomorrow, when this is all finished." I don't know how I knew, but I did know that the towers were coming down. As we walked, a new wave of human chorus followed us and overtook us signaling without saying so specifically that the tower was tilting and then we turned with everyone else and watched it disappear into itself. I had my wallet with me and after walking about half the length of the island, we though, "Why not see if one of these cabs will stop?" I put my hand up and the first one that passed us stopped and delivered us eventually uptown--I might add that, while the driver was wonderful helping us find my relative's address, he still charged us the cab fare. When we finally located my Aunt and Uncle's apartment, around 11:00 AM, we were able, after a few tries, to get an open circuit and phone them. As they knew we were staying at the Marriott, and, in fact, we had just had lunch with them on Monday Sept. 10 at WTC, I breathlessly announced to my Uncle Frank, "Frank, we are alive, we made it out alive!" All I got back from Uncle Frank was, "...uh, that's nice..." Whereupon, I said, "Uh Frank, turn on the TV." Well, long story short, My Uncle Frank and Aunt Jeannie, not really being that plugged into the world these days, and only tuning in to a radio or television on special occasions, had spent the entire morning of September 11, 2001, at peace with the world and in blissful ignorance, about 4 miles from ground zero. Now I wish I could have spared them that grim news. We spent the night with them--Laurel and I not really sleeping on their couch with picture windows overlooking the George Washington Bridge. We were able to get a train out the next morning to arrive at Union Station in D.C. the next afternoon, as the black cloud still hung over the Pentagon.

Michael Wald (hotel attendee - NABE)

That morning, I arrived at the Marriott Hotel for our last day of the NABE conference. Originally, my plan had been to stay at the Marriott, but my hotel reservations had been deleted in error a week before, so I was staying in a hotel near Grand Central Station and commuting to the conference via subway. I arrived that morning at the hotel from the subway after walking through the shopping center that was in the basement of the World Trade Center. The breakfast meeting was being held in a ground floor ballroom. The food was blintzes, and I remember thinking that the food was dangerous to my health. At the breakfast, the speaker from Morgan Stanley was giving his speech when we felt a shaking and heard the chandeliers rattling. He stopped talking and everyone else got quiet, but no one got up. After a moment, he resumed talking, then we felt a second shaking. At that point, everyone stampeded from the room with their briefcases. It felt like an earthquake, but it didn't seem to make sense that an earthquake would be happening in Manhattan.

At first we headed for the lobby, but when I got there, there was a large crowd in front of me at the front doors. Since no one seemed to be moving, I walked back towards the ballroom and down a hallway that connected the hotel to one of the towers. Looking at the hallway from the hotel to the tower, I could see a a large, brown cloud of smoke and debris that seemed to be rolling into the hotel. It was obvious that I did not want to walk through that, so I turned around and walked back to the main lobby. By that time, I got back to the lobby and found that there were a lot of people milling about. I could see that there was debris in the street and at least two cars had collided. Then a policeman who was outside the hotel motioned that it was safe for us to exit, and we all pushed through the front doors of the hotel and walked-ran quickly across the street to the park.

As we crossed the street, someone said that a plane had hit one of the towers. At the time I thought they meant a small private plane, or perhaps one of the traffic helicopters who fly around Manhattan. No one thought we were talking about a large aircraft. Once across the street, I looked straight up and saw the smoke coming from the tower. I tried to call my wife to tell her I was safe because I thought she might hear the report of the fire back in her office in Atlanta, but could not get through on my cellphone because everyone was using their phones at the same time. Since this was the last day of the conference, it seemed obvious to me that by the time they put out the fire and let everyone back into the hotel, the conference would be over, so instead of waiting around, I started walking to our regional office at 201 Varick Street. As I walked past a school, I heard a jet engine pass over my head, but I was focused on walking and did not look up.

I never looked back (It would not have made a difference anyways, because at ground level, the buildings would have blocked my view.) but continued to Varick Street. Emergency vehicles with their sirens kept racing towards the buildings as I walked away, and my main concern was not to be hit by one of those rushing vehicles as I crossed the streets. Once I arrived at the office, I tried to contact my wife but couldn't get through the telephone system since all the lines were busy. The then-NY Regional Commissioner, John Wieting, was suppose to meet me at the hotel that morning, but instead finally showed up at his office where we finally met. He had been stuck in a subway car on his way to the hotel and finally got out and walked to his office. Other workers were looking out of a window at the office and cried that the tower was falling, but I didn't want to see it so I stayed away from the windows. Finally, I sent my wife an e-mail message from another worker's desktop computer telling her I was all right. Then I was able to telephone her and talk to her. When I spoke to my boss in Atlanta next, she told me to be careful and get out of there, but I told her that she might be in more danger than us since we were getting reports that there were attacks occurring in other cities (Washington, DC - which was true, and Chicago - which was a false report), and Atlanta might be in danger.

Our plan was to stay at the office until things calmed down, but the Federal police closed the building and so a goup of us walked from Varick Street uptown. We had only one scare. As we walked near the Empire State Building, a crowd began running afraid that that building was going to be hit, so we also moved quickly away from that building and resumed walking uptown. Eventually, three of us walked back to my hotel room, where we watched the rest of the events that afternoon on television. My two companions later walked to their commuter train stations. That evening, I walked to Penn Station and found it open but empty. With a credit card, I was able to buy a ticket on Amtrak to Washington, DC from an automated ticket machine. The next morning, I checked out of the hotel with my luggage and caught a train the next day from New York to Washington, DC. After staying one night in Maryland with a friend, a series of chance encounters allowed me to catch a ride in a rental automobile back to Atlanta the following day.

Of that morning, my memories are clear but not particularly painful. Being that close, I didn't know the extent of the disaster, so there was no reason to panic. I never looked back and never looked at the building once I began my walk, so I didn't see that much. The emergency people were rushing to help, and I knew that they had more training and could be of more assistance than anything I could do. The fire in the tower seemed large, but no one was thinking that it would cause the building to collapse. I was safely in our regional office by the time the building did collapse, so I was out of harm's way. I remember being very focused the rest of the day - doing one task then another. Mostly, it was about making a series of small decisions based on the best informaiton I had at that time. It was the sum of those decisions that affected my outcome. Panic wouldn't help. As we walked uptown, lots of people were on the street, but they were the most polite people I had ever seen. Everyone kept saying "excuse me" and were careful not to upset anyone else. Police and police cadets appeared at every intersection as if by magic and tried to keep the streets open for emergency vehicles.

I haven't been back to the city since that time, but would like to return at some point, maybe twice - once to see the site as it is clear now, and later to see it when they put the new buildings on the site. Being a student of history, I have always wondered what it was like to be at a truly historical event. Now I know the sensations and feelings and it has given me a much deeper appreciation of history and how events can look different in retrospective than at the time. My conclusion is that history is somewhat misleading because it gives you a "big picture" view that never existed for people caught up in the event. I would never knowingly put myself in such a situation, but it is something I will always remember.

By EMILY GEST
N.Y. Daily News Staff Writer

Jean Cleere's husband never came home to Iowa from his routine business trip to New York.

Three weeks ago, minutes after the two hijacked jets smashed into the World Trade Center, Jim Cleere called his wife from his 15th-floor room in the Marriott World Trade Center.

In the 9:26 a.m. call, the insurance executive said he was going to find a way home — even if it was on a bus.

But he never called again after the towers next to the 22-story hotel collapsed.

"I have no idea what happened," Jean Cleere said in a phone interview from the couple's home in Newton, near Des Moines.

The 843-room hotel was battered by the collapse of the north tower, then crushed to rubble under the cascading 110-story mass of the south tower.

Two employees and 20 of the 940 registered guests are missing.

Only parts of the Marriott's final hours can be pieced together.

Andrew Ward, a reporter for Bloomberg who was staying in a 17th-floor room, heard the first explosion about 8:47 a.m.

One look at Tower 1, barely 100 yards away, told him he needed to run.

"It looked like a movie set, a giant hole where some floors used to be," he wrote.

He left without wallet, keys, computer, luggage or shoes. He banged on doors, telling other guests to ignore the emergency warning system, which "kept telling us to stay in our rooms."

On the ninth floor, bond analyst Michael Yager, 30, of Carmichael, Calif., also heard the explosion. He looked out and saw "stuff falling, cars swerving down below," he told the Sacramento Bee.

Yager called his girlfriend. He called his parents. He wasn't too alarmed. He ironed his pants.

Amy Loe, 23, of New Jersey, was working the front desk when the first plane hit. Suddenly, a human wave flowed in from the stricken building.

"Call an ambulance," a bellman shouted.

Shortly after the second attack, when a United Airlines plane hit the south tower, someone banged on Yager's door, shouting at him to evacuate.

In the lobby, a fire chief sent a crew to the top floor to check a report that bodies had fallen through the roof.

Then, a firefighter appeared from the north tower shouting at everyone to run, that the south tower had collapsed.

Debris from the crumbling tower hit the hotel, causing a partial collapse.

"We were covered in rubble," Loe said. "Everything was totally in black darkness. Some of the firemen and I, the pressure blew us across the lobby. I ran two steps and then 'Vrooom!' I was blown. I don't know how I got out in one piece."

The firefighters told her not to panic and found a route to the outside.

Loe last saw manager Joseph Keller trapped in the center of the lobby with two injured fireman. Keller was calling for help on a walkie-talkie.

"I'm alive. I'm here with two firemen who are really badly hurt," he was saying.

"He was only 10 feet away," Loe said. "I can't believe I got out and he didn't."

Lucy Bossert, a spokeswoman for Marriott, said that in addition to Keller, Abdu Malahi, a 37-year-old from Yemen who worked in the audio-visual department, is missing.

In Iowa, Jean Cleere said Marriott had not contacted her at all.

"They need to account to me what they did to help my husband and others staying there," she said. "There's got to be more information than I've gotten."

Bossert said the company has been "actively trying to contact guests and respond to family," but she declined to describe the process. Marriott plans to hold a memorial service for the missing guests and employees but has not set a date, she said.

Rose Keller, 29, wife of the missing manager and mother of their two children, said she hopes her husband's body will be recovered before she holds a service.

"He was the breadwinner. I was home with the kids," she said as she cradled her 6-month-old daughter, Sydnie. "Now, it's me and the kids. I've got to worry about everything."

Some 1,100 Marriott workers from the World Trade Center site and its sister hotel, the damaged Marriott World Financial Center down the street, could lose their jobs. There was no loss of life at the financial center hotel.

Bossert said the company is providing job placement assistance for its workers and medical coverage for a year.

Workers were kept on the payroll through yesterday, after which vacation days and personal leave time donated by Marriott workers around the world will kick in.

Marriott Survivor:

Dennis Wooldridge

My 86 year-old father and I were wrapping up a 2 week trip through Washington, DC, Boston, and Maine with a first visit (for both of us) to NYC. I am a writer and for quite some time had been working on a novel about terrorism. I chose to stay at the MWTC because of the historical perspective of the 1993 bombing. The hotel was also centrally located to the few things we were going to visit in our one day stop. Little did I know what I was getting us into.

My father was sit asleep and I was just coming back into the room after showering when the first plane hit. My first thought was "terrorists," but I thought I was probably jumping to conclusions and figured it must be an mechanical explosion or the like. I looked out or west facing window and saw the debris falling. What convinced me that we should leave the hotel, however, was the fact that everyone on the street was running away from and looking back over their shoulders - at me. That couldn't be good. So, I awakened my father and grabbed a few things together and left.

We got out of the building and were standing at West and Albany, just having turned to look at the damage to WTC1, when this incredible roar filled the air and the second plane screamed in just above us and into WTC2. You could feel the heat of the explosion and the initial debris sounded like rain. I snapped a couple of photos and we walked to the Esplanade and a sculptured area called "The Upper Room." We waited there for about forty minutes, watching the fires in WTC1 (WTC2 was blocked from view by other buildings), until a young woman came by and said that they (?) felt the area wasn't safe and wanted us to mover north or south of this position. I had no idea what was north, but we'd been to Battery Park the day before while playing tourists, so to the south we walked.

We got about 4 blocks south when there was another deafening roar, which I though was another plane. I looked up between the buildings and saw the cloud of grey ash and debris flowing toward us. I took my father's hand and kept walking. For the next few minutes, it was like walking through a snowstorm strsight out of Stephen King's worst nightmare. You couldn't see more than a few feet. A kind young man was ripping his T-shirt up and handing the peice out as mouth and nose filter. I took one and gave it to my father. We walked all the way to Battery Park in this strom of debris. While we waited there, the dust began to settle and the day lightened so you could see around you. While we waited for evacuation, we heard WTC1 collapse and watched as the second storm rolled through the park. The wind off the river kept all but a fine ash off those standing beside it.

We were eventually evacuated on the USACE vessel Hayward to Ellis Island. We were the only boatload of people taken there (about 100), although several of you were bought by smaller craft and in groups of 2 or 3. The Park Service people were great! We stayed there through several offers of transfers off the island, primarily because we had no place to go. We were truly refugees having left virtually everything in the hotel. I was quite concerned because we'd left my father's medicines there, but he did just fine.

Finally, they decided to transfere the remaining evacuees from Ellis to the Caven Point Reserve Center where we stayed for several hours. We got word trains headed south were leaving from Newark Penn Station, so we hopped aboard a bus and eventually made our way within several blocks of the station. The station was under and evacuation because of a bomb scare, but opened within a half-hour. After a lot of waiting and finding the Amtrak rep had left during the bomb scare and wasn't coming back, we made our way onto the last train to Florida, and although the conductor wasn't too happy about us not having reservations, we made it back to Central Florida by Wednesday eveing.

In about February of 2002, I decided to write a book about the MWTC, because there was such a void of information about the "forgotten building." I've interviewed over 100 people who were connected with the events in the hotel and have a library of research materials. I would love to talk to any of the survivors and share your stories in this imortant part historical record. You can email me at dewooldridge@hotmail.com.

Thanks you, Joyce, for the work you do on this site!

Dennis E. Wooldridge

By EMILY GEST
N.Y. Daily News Staff Writer

Jean Cleere's husband never came home to Iowa from his routine business trip to New York.

Three weeks ago, minutes after the two hijacked jets smashed into the World Trade Center, Jim Cleere called his wife from his 15th-floor room in the Marriott World Trade Center.

In the 9:26 a.m. call, the insurance executive said he was going to find a way home — even if it was on a bus.

But he never called again after the towers next to the 22-story hotel collapsed.

"I have no idea what happened," Jean Cleere said in a phone interview from the couple's home in Newton, near Des Moines.

The 843-room hotel was battered by the collapse of the north tower, then crushed to rubble under the cascading 110-story mass of the south tower.

Two employees and 20 of the 940 registered guests are missing.

Only parts of the Marriott's final hours can be pieced together.

Andrew Ward, a reporter for Bloomberg who was staying in a 17th-floor room, heard the first explosion about 8:47 a.m.

One look at Tower 1, barely 100 yards away, told him he needed to run.

"It looked like a movie set, a giant hole where some floors used to be," he wrote.

He left without wallet, keys, computer, luggage or shoes. He banged on doors, telling other guests to ignore the emergency warning system, which "kept telling us to stay in our rooms."

On the ninth floor, bond analyst Michael Yager, 30, of Carmichael, Calif., also heard the explosion. He looked out and saw "stuff falling, cars swerving down below," he told the Sacramento Bee.

Yager called his girlfriend. He called his parents. He wasn't too alarmed. He ironed his pants.

Amy Loe, 23, of New Jersey, was working the front desk when the first plane hit. Suddenly, a human wave flowed in from the stricken building.

"Call an ambulance," a bellman shouted.

Shortly after the second attack, when a United Airlines plane hit the south tower, someone banged on Yager's door, shouting at him to evacuate.

In the lobby, a fire chief sent a crew to the top floor to check a report that bodies had fallen through the roof.

Then, a firefighter appeared from the north tower shouting at everyone to run, that the south tower had collapsed.

Debris from the crumbling tower hit the hotel, causing a partial collapse.

"We were covered in rubble," Loe said. "Everything was totally in black darkness. Some of the firemen and I, the pressure blew us across the lobby. I ran two steps and then 'Vrooom!' I was blown. I don't know how I got out in one piece."

The firefighters told her not to panic and found a route to the outside.

Loe last saw manager Joseph Keller trapped in the center of the lobby with two injured fireman. Keller was calling for help on a walkie-talkie.

"I'm alive. I'm here with two firemen who are really badly hurt," he was saying.

"He was only 10 feet away," Loe said. "I can't believe I got out and he didn't."

Lucy Bossert, a spokeswoman for Marriott, said that in addition to Keller, Abdu Malahi, a 37-year-old from Yemen who worked in the audio-visual department, is missing.

In Iowa, Jean Cleere said Marriott had not contacted her at all.

"They need to account to me what they did to help my husband and others staying there," she said. "There's got to be more information than I've gotten."

Bossert said the company has been "actively trying to contact guests and respond to family," but she declined to describe the process. Marriott plans to hold a memorial service for the missing guests and employees but has not set a date, she said.

Rose Keller, 29, wife of the missing manager and mother of their two children, said she hopes her husband's body will be recovered before she holds a service.

"He was the breadwinner. I was home with the kids," she said as she cradled her 6-month-old daughter, Sydnie. "Now, it's me and the kids. I've got to worry about everything."

Some 1,100 Marriott workers from the World Trade Center site and its sister hotel, the damaged Marriott World Financial Center down the street, could lose their jobs. There was no loss of life at the financial center hotel.

Bossert said the company is providing job placement assistance for its workers and medical coverage for a year.

Workers were kept on the payroll through yesterday, after which vacation days and personal leave time donated by Marriott workers around the world will kick in.

Jill Davis (Hotel Guest)

That morning of Sept 11, we decided to go and have coffee but the hotel restaurant was so crowded (the one with the glass roof) so we decided to go to the WTC mall coffee shoppe. We dropped off a roll of film in the WTC film place (which we never got a chance to pick up) and then preceded to the New York Coffee shop. After sitting down about 10 minutes later strange things started happening. We did not know what was going on. Loud metal upon metal noises, things began shaking, the noises got louder and louder. Then there was an explosion and smoke and little particles were all in the mall hallway. The menu board was on fire. It was very scary. We didn't know what had happened. We didn't know whether to run or stay still. What I believed happen was that the fumes and gases came down the elevator shaft which was right outside the coffee shop. And I hate to think about it but I think that the metal upon metal was the elevator falling down the shaft. This coffee shop was located right under the 1st tower that got hit. Well we eventually made our way up and out. Of course not thinking straight I left my purse in the coffee shop and Rita didn't even have hers with her so therefore we were left stranded in New York with no identification and only $50.00 between us. I will never forget getting to the top of the stairs and right at the entrance was a piece of twisted metal. I thought to myself what is that. People were running like crazy to get into the mall and we were trying to get out of the mall. Then I realized why they were trying to get into the mall was because things were falling from above. We didn't know what to do but with GOD's help we made it across the street and eventually to the pier after several other scary events...the second plane... We never made it back to our room so we lost everything in our hotel room...but we are alive, thanks to our savior GOD.

PS My twin sister has just married a guy that we met that day that was in the coffee shop with us and also was staying at the Marriott WTC. That got Married on Feb 11, 2005. She carried 11 roses. The address at the church was 911... They rang the church bell eleven times and when we started taking pictures outside of this beautiful church in Maryland we noticed that the gravestone behind them was of the man that was actually born on Sept 11, the founder of the church.

James Caleca

20th floor, Concierge Floor

This is an accounting of my experience while staying at the Marriott World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I wrote this after I returned home. I begin by describing the events immediately after the first plane struck the North Tower.

I was attending a seminar on the 3rd floor of the Marriott at the time. When the first plane struck the North Tower it shook violently and felt like an earthquake accompanied by a loud deep boom. I leaned back in my chair and could see a huge ball of flame and debris falling. I told everyone that we needed to get out immediately and we left the room and took the stairway down to the lobby. After exiting through the Marriott lounge doors onto Liberty St. I went across from the WTC at an angle that allowed me a view of both towers. I was absolutely stunned and horrified by the sight of the tower on fire and instinctively began thinking that I had to get out of Manhattan before things got worse. My first inclination was that I believed a bomb had exploded and as I tried to call my wife and my office I overheard a passerby say that a plane had hit the building. This gave me a tiny bit of relief thinking that maybe it was, in fact, an accident. This minor relief was immediately replaced with additional horror from the sight of bodies falling from the WTC.

As I stood in shock at the unbelievable sight before me I witnessed the attack on the second tower. My horror turned into an indescribable terror at the instant realization that this was a deliberate act. From my perspective at street level the second plane looked like a cruise missile to me and I thought that the United States was under attack. It was traveling so fast and slammed into the building with such force that I did not see the wings of the jetliner. I immediately turned and ran towards Battery Park. While repeatedly trying to reach my wife and my office I tried to think of how I could get out of Manhattan. I knew that if I could reach New Jersey, that I could rent a car and drive home. My only focus was getting to my family and I didn't yet know that it was two planes that had caused this carnage.

When I reached Battery Park I heard someone say that it was a plane that hit the second tower and I challenged them that it was a missile. They said that they had seen the plane themselves. I was sick to think that this was a terrorist act and within minutes heard on a radio that the Pentagon had been hit as well. My despair and fear grew. I didn't know anyone in New York and kept thinking that the situation was only going to get worse. I asked someone how to get out of the city and was told that all bridges and were closed and that the ferry boats were not running. I did learn that the ferry boats departed from right near there and made my way towards that area.

Within 10-15 minutes a ferry boat arrived and I was fortunate enough to make it on. As I was boarding I heard a loud rumbling noise and realized that it was getting very smoky. As the boat began to pull away from the dock it was completely engulfed in smoke and dust from, what I later realized, was the collapse of the first tower. While it was very difficult to breath, it was nothing compared to what everyone that did not make that first ferry boat had to endure. Nor was it as uncomfortable as it must have been for anyone in closer proximity to the disaster

.

After I reached Staten Island I was able to make some phone calls and through my business association with Anheuser-Busch, I made it to the local distributor who assisted me in finding a hotel in East Brunswick, N.J. They were gracious enough to give me a ride there at approximately 3:30 PM. After I checked in, I turned on the TV and watched, along with the rest of the world, the news account of this tragedy and could not believe that I had witnessed it. I was emotionally drained, frightened and confused by the feelings of disbelief at having been there and the incredible good fortune of getting out when I did.

I was able to find a car to rent the next afternoon and at approximately 1:00 PM on Wednesday, September 12th I began the drive back to my home in the suburbs of Detroit, Mi. I drove for 12 straight hours only stopping for gas and reached my home at 1:00 AM. I still can't believe I was there.

The last week has been a very difficult and emotional time. I am so incredibly grateful at being able to have gotten out when I did and yet I have also experienced very strong feelings of cowardice for running away from it all. I don't know why I was spared the agony of dealing with the collapse of the towers like I was. My heart aches for all of the victims and their families and it is hard not to think that this is only the beginning of a horror that may continue to unfold for quite some time.

Aside from the time spent trying to reach my family and office throughout the ordeal, I was in constant prayer to God for guidance and strength. I do believe that I was blessed in that time of terror and I fully realize that my emotional and psychological suffering was and is nothing compared to so many others. I pray for them all.

Lillian Lee Moy

Hotel Guest

The events of 9/11 have affected people everywhere here and abroad. This is one of biggest tragedies I've ever seen. My view changed greatly on that day 9/11, since so many innocent lives were taken in that tragedy.

I was in the Marriott World Trade Center when the first plane struck the North Tower. In a frantic search for what was happening, myself and two other colleagues escaped the World Trade Center, to find the top of the building in flames.

As I looked in awe and disbelief of what was happening, within five minutes, the sounds of a loud aircraft engine approached, and my life changed drastically. Did I know what was to happen? How long would this event go on?

With some hesitation, but a need to escape this disaster without losing everything, I told my colleague Laurie Torene to go back inside the Marriott Ball Room, where we had stored our bags and computers. We managed to retrieve our handbags, with wallets and keys, which was very helpful as we returned to work at the Census Bureau.

That event has had a profound affect on we as a Nation, and is forever memorable.

Ilhan K. Geckil

NABE Attendee

I was in the Marriott WTC for the annual conference of NABE when the tragedy happened.

I was in Marriott’s Grand Ballroom when first plane hit the World Trade Center.

Marriott Survivor:

Crystal L. Pedone

09/30/01 04:49 AM

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear friends, family and co-workers:

 

Many of you have asked about the details of my experience on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.  I decided to document my experiences as part of the healing process for myself as much as for you. I don't really expect most of you to read my 09/11/01 story, but I think just knowing that you can (when and if you want) helps me in some strange way.   

 

Before I begin, I feel it is necessary to clarify one extremely important life decision that I made years ago and how I wanted to live my life. – My mother, whom I loved more than life itself, was taken from me at a very young age in a terrible car accident.  It was then that I decided to live each day looking for “the feeling of life” not necessarily “the meaning of life”.  I realized then that life could be taken so quickly and without any warning. I had to "raise the bar" then and know "the bar has to be even higher" this time around.

 

At approximately 8:45 AM on Tuesday, September 11th 2001, the search for “the meaning of life” began for me.

 

This is my story...

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

911 Time/Events

Last Revised: 09/30/01 4:47 AM

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (5:30 AM)

Alarm clock went off at approximately 5:30 AM but I didn’t actually roll out of bed until 5:45 AM.   I dressed into my workout clothes, piddled around with my mp3 player and heart rate monitor for about 10 minutes too long and then headed towards the elevator that would take me up one floor to the gym.

 

22nd Floor – Fitness American Gym (6:05 AM)

I arrived at the gym at approximately 6:05 AM, signed in and headed towards the treadmill in the hypoxic training chamber for a quick run.  This is one of the few mornings that I had to hop on one of the treadmills next to the chamber until the person inside finished their workout. I had to wait about 5 minutes (good warm up) before I started my 2.5 mile run (in the hypoxic training chamber) that overlooked a portion of Battery Park and an awesome marina that housed huge, beautiful boats and yachts. I remember how beautiful the reflection of the sunrise was across the water this particular morning. 

 

I used to play this silly mind game with myself during a run when I knew I was about to give up on the run goal or couldn’t find the motivation to push forward.  Since I was so high up above; looking down on all the “ant people” (yes, my friends – I still have the imagination of a child at times!), I used to tell myself, that I was a “cool chick super hero.” (With a bod like Zena – Princess Warrior) and I could just keep running until I ran across the Hudson on the building shadows from the morning sunrise, never stopping until I reached Jersey City.  I loved thinking the morning sun had rolled out her magic water carpet just for me – so I could finish my run. (Please stop laughing – it kept me running and that is all that counts.)

 

This morning I remember so vividly how “crisp” the morning appeared; how totally blue the skies were - not overcast or cloudy.  I even remember thinking as I was cooling down, “wow - what a beautiful day; Fall is just around the corner” – which also meant “to my brain” - less humidity and better “hair days” were heading my way.

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (6:30 AM)

Before I get into too much detail, let me share a little bit of history.  I have been a weekly resident of the Marriott World Trade Center since November 2000.  I did not realize, at the time, how totally “routine” some parts of my life had been over the past 11 months.  I was usually given a Marriott Junior Suite (or better) each week.  The Marriott Staff always took care of me. The Junior Suites were located at the end of the hotel hallway (next to the stairwell exit) and on the right side of (looking at) the hotel.  The rooms where huge, taking up the space of two rooms and primarily all windows. Most of the time, but not always, I stayed somewhere between the 16th and 18th floors and had never had any problems with the rooms, the room doors or room keys until this week. Here is where things get even more “different” for me.  My room this week was #2121.  (Right smack in the middle of the hotel.)  I had requested a “duplex room” the week before instead of the Junior Suite for this week.  Upon checking in on Sunday night, no “special” rooms were available, not even one of my normal Junior Suites. I shrugged it off thinking to myself, “no big deal, I needed a change anyway.”

 

I finished my run at approximately 6:30 AM and decided to return to my room and drop off my mp3 player before going for my “routine” coffee run in the Concierge Lounge.  (My room this week was almost directly across from the stairwell exit that led down to the Concierge Lounge on the 20th floor.) 

 

                Webster’s definition of the word “destiny” is: “a predetermined or inevitable course of events.” 

 

Looking back now, this is where my destiny would forever be changed.

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (6:35 AM)

My stupid room key would not work in the door. 

 

So, I patiently returned to the elevators and went down to the main lobby.  I was issued a new key. 

 

Concierge Lounge – 20th Floor - Marriott World Trade Center (6:40 AM)

On the way back up to the room, I decided to stop on the 20th floor and pick up my morning coffee, just as I did every morning.  I figured I had already wasted about 15 minutes with the “key issue” and needed to “get moving” since I had some emails to follow up on before leaving the hotel. 

 

I entered the lounge around 6:40 AM and found it to be very busy.  I was usually the first hotel guest to arrive when the lounge opened at 6:30 AM.  “Charles” knew my schedule and would sometimes have my coffee waiting.  This morning, I arrived almost 10 minutes later than normal.  

 

The gentleman that had been in the hypoxic training chamber before me was there and asked me how long I had been staying at the hotel and what I thought of the hypoxic training concept etc…  After a 5-minute conversation on workout schedules, we exchanged a handshake and agreed he would arrive at the gym at 5:30 AM and run until I arrived at 6:00 AM – so we could both work the hypoxic training chamber cardio run into our morning workout.  He mentioned he was staying at the hotel for 24 days and this was only his second day in NYC. 

 

I still wonder how this stranger and my buddy “Charles” came out of all of this….

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (6:50 AM)

My stupid room key STILL would not work in the door.

 

Instead of going back to the elevators and down to the main lobby again, (with two cups of coffee in my hands), I decided to use the hotel courtesy phone on my floor to call the front desk.  Explained the situation and asked that someone with a “master key” please come up and let me into my room.  The guy said he would send someone right up. 

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (7:00 AM)

After 10 minutes, I walked back to the phone (with only one-cup of coffee now) to call again.  Just as I was dialing, the hotel security guy exits the elevator.  I hung up the phone and as we were walking towards the room, he asked me my first and last name for verification and said he would need to see some sort of ID once I got into the room. 

 

Well – long story short, his “master key” would not work either.

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (7:05 AM)

I wish I could remember his name.  He was so nice.  Apologized over and over again for the inconvenience as he communicated with his “manager” via walkie-talkie (or whatever those things are called these days), that an “E Key” (emergency key) was needed instead of the “master key”. 

 

I remember telling him I had an early morning meeting and needed someone to hurry up with the “E Key”.  (i.e. – he explained the “E Key” over-rode the “privacy lock” on the doors.) He also mentioned he was leaving once I got “squared away” since his shift ended at 7:00 AM.

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (7:15 AM)

Another hotel staff member arrived with the “E Key” and was successful in opening my hotel room door.  (Never did have to show any ID…) Funny the things we remember. 

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (7:20 – 8:10 AM)

I changed out of my damp workout clothes and logged on to my email.  Within a few seconds, one of my most favorite PeoplePeople "in the whole world" sent me a Sametime/Instant Message.  I remember playing with that for a few minutes and then we said our “have a good day and good-bye’s”. 

 

At exactly 7:49 AM, I emailed my Status Report to all appropriate parties, and at 8:07 AM emailed a follow-up response to another favorite buddy on dinner plans for F.ILLi Pontes for the following week.

 

I then logged off and packed up that specific computer for the last time.   Who would have ever known?

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (8:10 – 8:30 AM)

I jumped in the shower and started getting ready for work.  Knew I was running about 15 minutes behind schedule.

 

Room 2121 - Marriott World Trade Center (8:30 – 8:42 AM)

Changed clothes twice (could not decide what I wanted to wear - (one of many "me things"!) - and then messed with my “toe rings” for what seemed like a half an hour.

 

Left my room for the elevator at approximately 8:42 AM.

 

Marriott World Trade Center (8:42 – 8:45 AM)

On the way down from the 21st floor, I remember looking at my toes and thinking, “I can’t believe how much time I spent messing with these stupid toe rings.  Now I will have to wait to get coffee after my 9:15 meeting.”  

 

I had already pushed the button to get off the elevator in the main lobby, but decided I wanted to walk through the WTC Plaza on the 3rd floor since I was running late.  Besides - it was so pretty outside.  So, I pressed the PL (Plaza Level) button and was actually looking forward to the walk outside. 

 

I usually go through the WTC Concourse (90% of the time) to look at all the store windows and preserve “the hair” from the outside elements. (i.e. – weather)

 

This is another “me thing”… 

 

Knowing now, what I didn't then - I believe if I had gotten on that elevator 30 seconds to 1 minute earlier, it could have (and most likely would have been) the difference between life and death for me.

 

Marriott World Trade Center (8:45 AM)

As I turned the corner to enter the Plaza Level of the Marriott, I immediately knew something was wrong.  I was standing in the center of the lobby, next to the glass banister, when dozens of people started rushing from the glass doors that exited to the WTC Plaza, the Greenhouse restaurant and the surrounding offices on that floor.  I immediately FROZE – not in panic, but I think to gain some kind of understanding as to what was happening all around me.    I can’t explain it.  I just knew that I was NOT going to follow any one of these people anywhere until I knew what was going on. (Some people were racing down the spiral staircase, some were racing past me - towards the elevators I had just gotten off of.) I couldn’t be sure of anything at that point, except I wasn’t going to jump off any “Brooklyn Bridge” just because everyone else was. I felt like I was in a slow motion movie but I was the only person in “slow motion.”

 

I remember these strange sounds coming from the Plaza area.  Like light bulbs bursting at the rate of firecrackers... dull yet sharp and quick sounds.  At first I thought the stage in the Plaza (where concerts were held almost daily) had caught on fire or something and all the lighting equipment was exploding.  It wasn’t until I saw a man with blonde hair, wearing a pink shirt come running through the glass door area, with what looked like his shirt and/or hair smoldering, that is when I knew something was SO NOT right. 

 

{Little did we all know that a hijacked Boeing 767 (American Airlines Flight 11) had just crashed into the north side of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at approximately the 80th floor.}

 

Marriott World Trade Center (8:47 – 9:01 AM)

As I started to move towards the spiral staircase that led down to the main lobby, I looked to my right and could not believe what I was seeing.  The weird sounds outside now made perfect sense to me.  Almost like the actual thought process of “ah – now I get it” going through my brain in that millisecond.  I was hearing (and now seeing) huge, burning chunks of gray/white cement slamming to the ground like rain, up against the doors and the restaurant windows – clouds white dust and smoke everywhere.  I remember this overwhelming feeling of being "so totally" alone as I turned quickly to go down the stairs. 

 

On the way down the stairs, a lady was shouting, “it was a bomb.”  I am not a rude person by nature, but I did tell her to “please shut-up.”  I don’t know how I knew this but I just knew it WASN’T a bomb. She was starting to freak-out some of the other people trying to get down the stairs.  Once I could see out of the front hotel windows, I turned to her and another man behind me and told them to look at the debris.  I could see a lot of twisted metal and concrete chunks falling with burning, chard papers – almost like confetti but ugly and dirty. I said the debris looked like it had come from a small airplane and even mentioned that maybe there had been an airplane that had clipped one of the buildings.

 

Once down to the lobby level of the hotel, I remember seeing some people running from (and towards) the hotel entrance covering their heads because of all the falling debris.  I made my way through all the dozens of people now entering the lobby, all the way to the lounge area where all the couches were.  I found an open area near one of the large main windows and stopped. I am standing in front of this huge window looking out at all the falling debris and I remember two cops, in front of the other tower entrance - standing outside their car, hands on their hips looking straight up.  Almost paralyzed.  I started getting a little panicked at this site because I knew it was close to one of the towers.

 

My hands were shaking so bad that I could not dial my cell phone.  I tried calling a friend at the Teaneck office first, then my husband, then my buddy Bill Mancinelli who was also staying at the hotel. There were NO SIGNALS available.

 

I was near tears when I turned around and whom do I see?  My buddy, Bill Mancinelli - naked as a newborn except for his gym shorts and the shaving cream in his ears!  I can’t begin to explain the relief I felt at that very moment. I remember asking Bill where Bernie (Rock) was and he said Bernie was on his way down; right behind him. We were both looking out the windows, wondering what the hell had just happened when out of nowhere, in an extremely crowed lobby, appeared Bernie, then Tina (Powell) and then Ragu (Chary). {I remember later mentioning to Bill that we have more difficulties getting everyone together for a scheduled business meeting on most days than we did finding each other that morning.} I still believe, in all the excitement, it was a “total miracle” that we found each other that quickly. 

 

We all stood around for what seemed like a half an hour or so talking about what we had seen or heard.  Bernie even had time to take off his business shirt and gave Bill the tank shirt he had on underneath.  We even made some jokes about this situation “so not working for me” and laughed at Bill for showing up in just his gym shorts. 

 

I did not feel we were in any danger and was definitely NOT in any hurry to leave because of all the debris still falling.  I felt safer inside at this point.

 

No one had any idea that another hijacked Boeing 767 (United Airlines Flight 175) was less 2 minutes away from crashing into the south side of the South Tower of the World Trade Center over our heads.

 

Marriott World Trade Center (9:01 – 9:02 AM)

I keep replaying the next few moments over and over in my head and still find I have missing pieces.  Somehow we started moving towards the Marriott Tall Ships Bar/Lounge with others in the lobby so we could be evacuated out the side entrance/exit door, the furthest exit from the other tower.  (The fire department had started asking everyone to evacuate quickly) I remember seeing and smelling a lot of dust in the lobby but did not smell any smoke until we started towards that exit route.  Once we entered that area I could see a lot of smoke coming from the kitchen area.  A Marriott Staff member was standing near the stairs leading down and out of the Bar, telling everyone to “exit quickly and to cover your head”.  Outside the exit was a police officer yelling at everyone to “run quickly and cover your heads.”  I asked the policeman on the way out what had happened and he said it looked like a plane had crashed into the other tower and to cover my head and move quickly. 

 

Once outside, I remember looking to my left.  One of the first thoughts I remember running through my brain immediately was “this would have been the other route I would have taken to work and it would have been “so totally WAY bad”…  (Remember, this is my brain thinking – not a normal one!)

 

Huge pieces of concrete had smashed the rooftops of some of the cars and SUV’s.  Everything looked like it was covered in “snow” from all the dust and debris that had fallen.  I also recall the thought that EVERYTHING DID look like a bomb had gone off.  I didn’t want to see anymore and realized I had not covered my head because I had my laptop in one hand and my purse in the other.  We all ran across the main highway (West Street) to the opposite corner of the Marriott (South Tower).  We stopped long enough to get everyone together and Bill suggested we move further away since so much stuff was still falling. Some people were just standing around casually looking up at the North Tower burning. There were hundreds of people standing in the street that had been evacuated from various buildings.  I could see the top portion of the North Tower just billowing with black smoke. Papers falling and blowing around like snow.  I remember seeing what I thought was a person falling out of the top of the building and dismissed it. I thought “there is no freaking way I saw what I just thought I saw” when two women behind me started crying hysterically saying they had just seen someone fall from the top of the tower.  I decided not to look up again. (I cover my eyes in scary movies - this was "so NOT what I EVER wanted to see in real-life".)    I still remember hearing all the cries from the bystanders each time someone else fell from the burning building. 

 

I remember looking at two crying women as I turned to walk away with my co-workers and thought “what a terrible accident; there is just no way in hell this day could get any worse.”

 

Marriott World Trade CenterWest Street (9:02 – 9:03 AM)

I don’t remember passing more than one road entrance (one block) after we moved from the first block across from the Marriott.  However, I remember Tina pointing out how large some of the pieces of twisted metal were that had landed in the street as we walked away from the burning tower.  I was wearing high-heeled sandals and still pulling my laptop behind me – (remember, I was on my way to work when this all started.) I was trying to keep conscience of where I was walking since there was so much debris to walk over (like a war zone) and even remember calling out to Bill a few times to please be careful where he was walking since he did not have any shoes on. I recall the pungent smell of burning paper, plastic and dust all around.

 

We stopped at the next block. We were approximately 100-150 yards from the South Tower now and this is where things are as unclear as they are clear. I cannot recall what we were talking about or if we were even talking at all, I think we were still just starring at the North Tower burning.  Then suddenly out of nowhere, appeared an extremely LOUD, huge, ominous cloud, flying so low.   I honestly thought (in that ½ a breath) that I could have jumped up high enough to touch the streaked metal belly.  Deafening shrieks of whining metal as the engines were rolled back as if the brakes were being applied.  A slight turn and then it was gone. The plane sliced through and disappeared into the South (second) Tower. 

 

Although my senses were in high gear, time appeared to stand still; yet they rushed through me like a nuclear blast.  Like a painfully slow, surreal horror movie - where my role was to stay calm in order to survive. The desire for self-preservation became the ultimate goal. (The shock of witnessing thousands of people dying in that second would not become real for me until a few days later.)

 

I turned, dropped my laptop and joined a human stampede that had already begun to run towards Battery Park. I looked back only once when I felt I was far enough from any falling debris and remember seeing black smoke and orange fire billowing from the teal blue windows in such anger.  I made a promise to myself not to look back again and hurried forward to catch up with the rest of my co-workers.

 

Battery Park  (9:04 – 9:20 AM)

After catching up with Bill and Bernie and almost totally freaking out because they ran off and left me behind, we tried to find a “safe spot” to just stop and regroup. We found an area in Battery Park under some trees to just “stop” and try to digest what was happening around us.  My cell phone, just like everyone else’s would not pick up a signal.  I sat down on a bench and remember all the different questions that were running through my head like a bad stock banner-

What had just happened?

Was Manhattan under attack?

Who did this and Why?

Should we stay away from the other buildings?

Would it be smart for us to be out in the open with large crowds?

Where would we be least vulnerable?

 

Bill suggested we get the hell out of Manhattan.  I was all for that suggestion. We headed towards the Staten Island Ferry to find Tina and Ragu.  When we got there, we were told none of the ferry services were running.  Bill then suggested we head towards the Brooklyn Bridge where we could walk over the bridge and his father could come and pick us up. 

 

Streets of New York City  (9:20 – 9:45 AM)

I remember some really weird stuff.  We were all pretty calm as we walked towards the South Street Seaport area.  I noticed all the long telephone lines for the pay phones and had no desire to stop and wait, all the papers on the streets, some had PeopleSoft panel shots and queries, magazines that looked like they were from airplanes or business office waiting rooms. (Chard and burned edges) All the people standing around outside of the businesses and stores in the streets – like zombies. The smells of smoke and dust, ambulances and police cars/motorcycles everywhere, paramedics/fire fighters were coming from all directions. Confusion everywhere as to what had just happened. We agreed to stay together and respect everyone’s mental and physical abilities until we could get out of Manhattan safely.

 

Tina, Ragu and I had cell phones.  We were continuously trying to get a signal so we could let everyone know we were all right and find out about others. We decided to stop at a Duane Reade store on the corner of Broad Street at approximately 9:40 AM to get cigarettes and water.  (I still have the receipt for my water!) I needed something in my stomach because I was starting to feel physically ill. This is when reality of what I had just seen started to set in.  The first of many tears had begun.

 

Streets of New York City  (9:45 AM)

Once outside again, we continued walking towards the South Street Seaport area.  Around 9:45 AM, Tina’s cell phone rings.  We have her stop and stand still.  Each one of us gave her fiancé one number and a name to call to let know them know we are all right.

 

South Street Seaport Area   (9:45 – 10:15 AM)

We all sat down near the Seaport Ferry’s.  I remember this young woman wanting to know if we were heading towards the Brooklyn Bridge and we all introduced ourselves and told her we were heading that way; to stick with us. Bill and I discussed the safety of heading towards the bridge.  (I was concerned the bridges would be targeted next if anyone were trying to cripple the city.) The lines for the Seaport ferries were long and nothing appeared to be coming into or leaving via the ferries. 

 

After a few minutes, we all stood up and headed toward the Brooklyn Bridge.  We hadn’t gotten far at all when I heard loud crashing noises coming from ALL of the streets in front of us. People were running in all different directions trying to get away from the area.  There is only one way to describe that scene in my mind: pure panic/mayhem.  I was 100 times more terrified than I had been any time that day.   I thought bombs were going off on every side street in that area. The unknown ahead seemed more frightening than where we were coming from.  People started pushing and crowding where we were standing. 

 

Tina and I took our shoes off, grabbed on to each other’s hand and moved with the crowd towards the direction of the ferries.  I could see Bernie and Ragu behind me but I could not see Bill anywhere.  A huge cloud of white dust limited our visibility to less than one block.  By the time we all made it to the ferries, we were covered in white soot.  We were trying to find Kleenex's to cover our mouth and nose.  We were looking in all the ferry lines for Bill and even stood in one of the first lines to watch for him in case he walked past us.  

 

While waiting in line, a gentleman next to us had a radio and told us a plane had crashed into the Pentagon.  He had also heard one plane (out of the four “known” hijacked planes) has still not been accounted for and that the FAA had ground all planes in the US and any international flights were being sent to Canada.  My eyes were killing me from all the dust and soot in the air.  I walked over to the “floating hospital boat” and was able to get us (and the gentleman with the radio) a surgical mask while we waited in line for the ferry to leave.

 

South Street Seaport Area   (10:15 – 10:45 AM)

We continued to wait in line for the ferries to start boarding and kept a close watch for Bill.  I felt so responsible for us not being able to stay together.  I was so concerned for Bill because I knew he didn’t have ID, money, credit cards or shoes.  Although I kept telling myself how resourceful he was, as my friend, I was so upset that he was in this mess (whatever it was) all alone.  I kept flashing back to how I had felt when I had gotten off the hotel elevator at the Marriott and thought I was alone and how totally scared I was. I wanted more than anything to see his “Mike Myers” face walk up to us in line.  I knew in my mind that he had taken off towards the bridge and the rest of this journey would be without him.

 

One thing stands out so vividly in my mind as we were waiting in line.  Even though we could not see one building in front of us for what seemed like a very long time, I will never (as long as I draw breath) forget the sound that came from the white and black clouds of smoke, out of nowhere.  The sound of F-14/16 fighter jets.  I remember hearing some of the people in line gasping in horror when they heard the sounds and I turned and said “it’s one of ours… one of our fighters…they are here protecting us now” and almost breaking down into tears.  The sweetest sounds my ears had heard all day. 

 

We finally heard a man asking if anyone else was going to Hoboken in our line because they had extra seats.  I remember turning to Tina, Bernie and Ragu and saying, “we are going wherever the first ferry out of here is taking us.”

 

I wanted out of the city so bad.  We still had no idea what was going on around us.

 

South Street Seaport Ferry to Hoboken (10:45 –11:45 AM)

It wasn’t until after we had gotten on the ferry that we heard the towers had collapsed. We were all sharing information and trying to make some sense of all the things going on since we still had no way of contacting anyone via our cell phones. 

 

Half way to Hoboken, we were detoured to Jersey City because Hoboken had become the emergency route for the injured. It wasn’t until we docked in Jersey City that for the first time since 8:45 AM, I started to feel a little bit safe again. 

 

Jersey City, NJ  (11:45 – 12:00 Noon)

We left and walked towards the crowds of people being directed to an emergency evacuation center.  No one could tell us exactly where it was, so when the first bus pulled up and stopped, we all got on and headed towards the Hoboken train station.  (We were trying to get out of the congested areas so we could find ways to get home.) 

 

Hoboken Train Station, NJ  (12:00 – 1:00 PM)

Once we got to the train station, we all stood in line and waited to use the Verizon pay phones to contact everyone to let them know we were alive and trying to get home.  I called my husband and we tried to coordinate a location where he could pick us all up. Getting to Newark Penn Station was the objective at this point.

 

The closest we could get to Newark Penn Station was going to Gladstone Train Station. (I think that was the name of it) Everything started to become so chaotic.  I barely had time to buy everyone water and snacks before we were herded onto the trains for security reasons.  Then we ended up switching trains at Hoboken 3-4 times before we even left.  No one knew what was going on.

 

 

 

Gladstone Train Station, NJ  (1:00 – 1:15 PM)

When we arrived at this train station, we were told we would need to board another bus that would take us to Newark Penn Station.  I remember how new these buses were and the “new car smell” that was so strong.

 

Newark Penn Station, NJ  (1:15 – 2:00 PM)

Everything was so confusing at this train station.  My husband could not get close enough to us due to all the congestion and security.  Our next step was to get to the Elizabeth Train Station. 

 

After we tried to get on a train going to Elizabeth Train Station and was told we would need to go through a “quarantine process” for asbestos, we decided to look at other approaches to getting out of this area. 

 

Ragu was able to find a bus that could take him to Baltimore-MD, which was 60 miles from his home. 

 

Bernie, Tina and I started walking away from the Newark Train station in hopes of finding a cab/taxi/car service that would drive us to the Elizabeth Train Station.  We were fortunate to find someone (taxi) almost immediately.

 

Elizabeth Train Station, NJ (2:00 – 2:30 PM)

We arrived at this tiny little train station and waited for about a half an hour before my husband arrived to pick us up.  Tina called to make arrangements for a rental car and Bernie called his family to make arrangements for a pick up at a rest area near my house. 

 

Jersey Shores, NJ (4:15 – 4:45 PM)

Closest place available renting out cars.  Tina and I followed my husband and Bernie to a rest area on the NJ Turnpike. 

 

NJ Turnpike Exit (7A) (4:45 – 6:00 PM)

Tina, Bernie, my husband and I waited at a rest stop off of the NJ Turnpike until Bernie’s family arrived.

 

Wednesday, September 12th, 2001

My buddy "Bill" was reunited with his family the next day.  He had made his way over the Manhattan Bridge after our separation and found refuge in the Brooklyn Marriott over night.  He, too, made it home (a day later) safe and sound.

 

Although we were (all) extremely fortunate, we have many different scars from this experience.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I have received so much support from all of you. Please know that "I thank each and everyone of you from the bottom of my heart" for your kind wishes and concern.  I never knew how much I was loved and appreciated until now.

 

~Crystal~

            "We really don't learn anything from our experiences. We only learn from reflecting on our experiences."

 

                                                                                                {Robert Sinclair - educator/speaker}

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Crystal Pedone

12/25/01 02:05 PM

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                       To:  Amis...

                       cc:                                                                  

                 Subject:  Tuesday, December 25th, 2001- Christmas Day

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear friends, family and co-workers:

 

As I stood alone outside, looking up at the midnight sky this Christmas Eve (feeling the sobering effects of my thoughts from the cold night air) I couldn’t help but noticed how unbelievably clear and crisp the sky seemed at that very moment.  The dark quiet calmness of this Christmas Eve, lit only by the moon’s kindness. 

 

An airplane flew overhead, in front of the moon’s light… in silence. The shadows were reflected so high in the sky - almost like a dark phantom pulling at my heart.  I thought how tomorrow, Christmas Day, would mark a precise point in time for all of us… 

 

Sixteen weeks ago today, Christmas Day, at approximately 8:45 AM, so many lives and traditions were changed forever.

 

Tuesday, December 25th, 2001 – Christmas Day

 

As I wrote in my experiences after 9/11:

"We really don't learn anything from our experiences. We only learn from reflecting on our experiences."

                                                                                                {Robert Sinclair - educator/speaker}

 

I wanted to take the time to thank so many of you for all the love, patience and understanding you have given me during these past 16 weeks. I still feel an overwhelming sense of sadness from all the events of that horrific day but each of you, in some way, has helped to keep me constantly reminded of all the love and happiness still to be experienced in this crazy world we live in.  For all the love, joy and laughter you give so freely, I sincerely thank God each and every day for the relationship I have with each of you. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Merry Christmas and wishing you a Peaceful, Healthy and Prosperous 2002

 

Crystal L. Pedone

 

Last Revised: 12/26/01 07:50 AM

Marriott Survivor:

Clint Baird

11th floor

I was working for a company out of north carolina that provided generators and power distro for special events. For the past two years the lower Manhatten Cultural council had hired us to provide power for the eving stars cultural fair that was held in the commons area of the WTC Complex. I was there on the 3rd or 4th long stent staying in the the WTC Marriot. The show was going very well and we had a rain out on the night of the 10th. Having worked late I went to my hotel room (which i cant remember the #) and went to bed. Since I had a 10:00 AM Call the next morning i slept in. I was just waking up to some tv when I both heard and felt the blast of the explosion above my head 60 stories.

With out thinking i went to the window saw flames and debris falling from above. I grabbed a pair of pants and ran out the door. Only pants nothing else. From there we were held in the loby of the hotel untill we were released to go to the west side of the west side highway from there i witnessed the second plane fly into the south tower from directly accross the street. I was terrified like everyone else i knew at that moment it was not an accendent. I stood on that corner for as long as i could handle. Wondering down towrds the battery a gentleman give me his undershirt and $20.00 that is when the first tower fell. not knowing what to do i just followed the croud and found myself on the Statan island ferry. It was a number if buses and train rides before i made it home the North Carolina the next evening.

My wife and family all in south dakota waited in fear for 6 hours until they knew i was safe. I know that there were many that were not as fortunite as i was my sympathy and love go out to all that lost someone they knew, and to the brave fire fighters and police who gave their lives to save the lives of others, I wish I was as honerable.

My Escape on September 11

Richard Stark

5th floor (Room 530)

REPORT FOR MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS REGARDING THE WORLD TRADE CENTER TRAGEDY ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

Now that some time has passed since my near death encounter in the Word Trade Center Tragedy, I have undertaken to describe my experience in some detail. I felt some compulsion to create this record for myself. and as a family record for our 5 children, 14 grandchildren and one or more great grandchildren. Moreover, I particularly needed to update this Report, first dated September 12 and expanded several times, in order to include my finding and communicating with the NY Fireman who saved my life!

September 10, 2001

I had spent September 10, 2001, participating in the mediation of long running litigation which involved an investment in Durham NC with a number of my partners in the New York law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. I had retired from the Firm at the end of 1990, after 42 years of active practice, but was still active in managing this investment. We finally settled the litigation and completed the paperwork about 7:30 pm. My partners Guil Gaylord, Russ Brooks and Marty Cowan, and our counsel John Sarratt and Mike Levin and I went to the nearby Bull Run Restaurant to review the status of the settlement and breath a sigh of relief that potentially unpleasant litigation had been avoided. Marty left before the rest of us had dinner. After dinner our legal counsel John L. Sarratt from Durham, NC, who had done an excellent legal job for us, wanted to see the Windows on the World. At 10:45 pm John and I went up to the 107th floor of WTC Tower 1 to have a look around on a clear and beautiful night. We must have been among the last to enjoy this extraordinary vista of New York City with all its beautiful night lights ablaze. As the bar was closed, we ended up at the Tall Ships Bar on the first floor of the Marriott WCT Hotel for a night cap. We were both staying at the Marriot World Trade Center Hotel which was adjacent to both the World Trade Towers.

September 11, 2001

The next morning, September 11, 2000, John left early to catch a plane (which never left the ground) for Raleigh-Durham. I had intended to “sleep in” at the Marriott and was late arising. I did not become fully aware of the peril until after the second terrorist jet hit WTC Tower 2 which was only 100 feet from my fifth floor Hotel room's East-facing window, but far above my view. Out my window business papers were scattering in the wind from WTC Tower 1 and flaming metal pieces were falling to the ground from WTC Tower 2. Even so, I dressed leisurely and packed my bag and telephoned daughter Sally and wife Barbara. Finally, with the guidance of a Hotel employee, who had been sent to carry my bags, I retreated with three other guests down the interior fire escape stairs on the East side of the Hotel. We had no sense of urgency and thought we were making an orderly exit. When we got to the third floor, we felt a horrendous earth shaking sound and rush of air that pressed our bodies backward from WTC Tower 2 falling beside and onto the Marriott Hotel building where we were. The outside wall of our stairwell collapsed and our stairwell became part of the crushing rubble which buffeted us about in the dark created by the cement and other dust. The five of us were trapped in the dark. I took gulps of the dusty and contaminated air, without thinking of possible lung damage. When the dust gradually cleared we could see through the remaining outside wall the emerging outlines of the ruins of WTC Tower 2 and the devastation and rubble as far as the eye could see. While we were virtually unharmed, having suffered only minor cuts and bruises, it appeared that death was inevitable and imminent as our stair well had shifted and seemed unstable and was filled with rubble and dust. We felt there was more crunching and shifting to come. We were covered with cement and plaster dust from head to toe, in our hair and in every crevice of our clothing and opening of our bodies. There was no steady place to step. Surprisingly, all of us were calm and even introduced ourselves to each other while we awaited the inevitable.

Firemen Saved my Life

After some 10 or 15 minutes, four Firemen came to our aid from inside the Hotel but said we could not get out through the Hotel because of the extensive damage to the East side of the Hotel. I now know that the Hotel behind them had partially collapsed. (The Hotel later told me they lost 2 managers. Some registered guests never were found, but the Hotel believes that they were away from the Hotel at meetings elsewhere in the WTC.) The Firemen examined the area where the outside wall had been which opened onto the unbelievable ruin with rubble piled at least one story high between us and the nearby major pile of what was WTC Tower 2. The floor where we were standing was some 20_30 feet above the level of the rubble, but the Firemen found a metal beam leaning against the remaining structure of the Hotel at a 45% angle down into the rubble. The lead Fireman asked my name and I answered “Dick”. The lead Firemen instructed the five of us to slide down the beam backwards on our bellies, with him leading the way to see that it was safe. I protested that I was 80 years old and could not do it. The lead Fireman brushed off my reluctance and said “Dick, we are going down now!” which of course I did with the great assistance of gravity. Needless to say, my baggage was left sitting on a ledge by the baggage man, and by now far from his and my thoughts. There was no panic. We just did what we had to do. After we slid down the beam, the lead Fireman held my hand while he led me across another horizontal beam which was only a few feet above the rubble to a point where we could step onto the rubble and walk or rather climb through it for some 500 yards South to an emergency vehicle. We had to avoid pools of water that might have electricity, cables that might be live and rubble that was not stable enough to hold our weight. The lead Fireman seemed to know when to be cautious. Half way to our goal my legs would not go further and I could not get enough breath for my ailing heart. The lead Fireman turned me over to two policemen who took one arm each and walked me out to within a few yards of the emergency vehicle. I looked back and, except for one or two of my fellow stairwell companions and a couple of Firemen and policemen, there was no sign of life. The Firemen were returning to the center of devastation to seek other survivors. In the emergency vehicle the paramedics gave me oxygen, a wet cloth to prevent further dust (including asbestos) exposure and a bottle of water. I was still wearing my Brooks Brothers blue blazer, tie and pocket handkerchief but one could not tell what color they were under the gray dust. With me as the only passenger, the emergency vehicle picked its way through the rubble to a street, I think it was Liberty Street. The vehicle took me to a small landing dock on the Hudson River where people were being evacuated on a small police ferryboat. None of them appeared to have been in the rubble. Unable to walk further by this time, the paramedics lifted me onto the ferry and we crossed to Jersey City, NJ. There were some 50 or so very grim and silent people on board. We looked back and could see that WTC Tower1 was still standing. I was helped ashore and the vessel turned around to go back for another load, leaving me on my own as I was apparently not injured.

Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J.

After resting to gather my strength for some minutes, I got up and found myself in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ and walked slowly to the Park's restroom facilities where I was able to wash the caked dust from my eyes, nostrils and mouth. I found I had only received scratches and bruises on my legs and a damaged ear drum. There was dust and gravel down my neck and in my shoes, but I could not stop to do anything about that. My eyes were stinging where the dust scratched my eyeballs, a condition that did not clear up for several days. Then I found a line of people waiting to telephone relatives. None of them appeared to have been near enough to the disaster to show evidence of it. While waiting in line, we looked back across the Hudson and saw WTC Tower 1 collapse, but we could not see whether the Marriott WTC Hotel suffered any further damage, but I understand it suffered final collapse some time later. I tried several times without success to reach Barbara on my cell phone. After an hour I was able to reach a phone and call Barbara, my wife of some 57 years and the love of my life, in Vero Beach FL to tell her I was in fact alive. I had considerable difficulty getting a connection to Vero Beach and by this time I felt an urgent need to talk to her. One bystander complained that I was taking too long on the phone. I told him to go to Hell, I had been in the falling building and he obviously had not.

Barbara and Marie

Barbara was almost certain that I had perished and had been in constant touch with our 5 children (Sally and Rick in Darien CT, Sue in Amherst, MA, Maggie in Agoura Hills, CA and Bobbie in Dallas TX) and directly or indirectly with some of our grandchildren, for several agonizing hours. I cannot begin to imagine the thoughts and fears running through their minds. Barbara was not physically strong because of protracted convalescence following major back surgery on May 31, 2001. Marie Cartnick, our oldest friend from Long Island days now also living in Vero Beach, came to our home to be with Barbara when the catastrophe became known.

Guil and Karen Gaylord

By coincidence, Barbara was in telephone contact with Karen Gaylord in Short Hills NJ when I finally called to announce my reprieve from death. Between them they arranged for Guil Gaylord, my long time law partner and one of my most prized proteges when he was a young lawyer, to come and get me. Private cars were not allowed in the Park. And none of the dozens of emergency and official vehicles lined up to receive evacuees would give me a lift to the Park entrance some miles to the West because I was not wounded and was apparently able to walk. They had "no authority" to help me, although I was 80 years old, probably in some level of shock, and in disheveled and distraught condition. I sat down on the ground to rest and empty my shoes of gravel so I could walk without undue pain. While the emergency vehicles waited for "someone in need," I walked and hitched short rides to the Park entrance, located also at the entrance to the NJ Turnpike, some miles to the West. After an hour I arrived at a Getty Station on Garfield Avenue at the NJ Turnpike entrance. Using the Getty station phone I called Karen Gaylord and she contacted Guil on his car phone. He knew exactly where I was, but had difficulty finding a road to the East that was not blocked off for emergency vehicles. While waiting for Guil a kind woman learned that I had not eaten that day. She left and returned with a sandwich and water. Another person asked permission to take my picture because I looked so awful. Guil finally picked me up at 2:30 pm. When I finally got in the car with Guil, safe at last, I broke down in uncontrollable sobs for the first time. Guil drove me to their home in Short Hills, and together with Karen, washed me up and cleaned my clothes removing quantities of gravel and dust from my pockets and every fold. They arranged to replace all of my essential heart and eye prescription medicines with the telephone aid of my daughter Dr. Bobbie Baxter in Dallas and my cardiologist Dr. Nancy Cho in Vero Beach. They made numerous telephone calls for me, fed me scotch and food and put me to bed. When I arose the next morning, Wednesday, after a fitful and painful night that I thought would never end, I felt like it was the day after the End of the World. I could not really grasp what had happened to me and to several thousand other less fortunate victims of the terrorists attack. But details of continuing life required attention. In the morning I found Karen scrubbing my nearly ruined shoes. Later, Guil and Karen took me to collect my cleaned clothes and to a doctor to tend to my minor injuries. The doctor was much more concerned with the condition of my heart and my lungs which had inhaled so much dust, so he arranged an EKG and chest X_ray. Major bridges and tunnels had been closed, but reopened around noon, so Guil drove me to my daughter Sally's home in Darien CT. There we were met by my daughter Sally, her husband Jim and my son Rick. Sally and Rick comforted me while we made endless telephone calls to report to and check up on family and friends. Guil later reported that one of our younger law partners, upon hearing of my experience, remarked that he “always knew Dick Stark was a tough SOB”. Under the circumstances I took this to be a compliment.

Andy’s Long Hike

I learned that Sue and Geof's 23 year old son Andrew Richard Woglom was evacuated from his offices at Lehman Brothers across the street from the WTC on the morning of September 11th and had walked to his apartment far uptown on 95th street. Then he walked back down town to rescue his girl friend from her uninhabitable apartment near the WTC. Since one of her legs was in a cast and the other was awaiting surgery, he obtained short rides or carried her most of the several miles back to his apartment.

Rick’s Church

On Thursday, September 13th, Rick took me to one of the several special prayer services at his church, The First Presbyterian Church of Darien. All the churches in town, and indeed throughout the country were open that day. The services consisted of a few hymns, but mostly prayers by the minister, silent prayer and open prayers by individuals in the congregation. Most of those in attendance were stunned and dismayed and found it difficult to articulate how they felt. Finally, Rick and I arose, our arms about each other. I told of my experience in halting words because of the painful memories and prayed for the many victims who perished so near me. Rick gave thanks to God for the deliverance of his father and spoke in much more composed fashion than I of the tragedy that had befallen our country and the world and the challenge to our leaders. Several in attendance had lost a loved one. At the conclusion of the service, several were unable to regain sufficient composure to rise from their seats and remained with their heads resting on the pew in front of them for some time.

Thoughts While Awaiting Death

Many people have asked me what went through my mind a the moment when it seemed that I and others with me would surely be crushed to death? I would like to say that “my whole life passed before my eyes” or that “ I thought of my Wife and how much I loved her” or “how would she ever get along without me” or “how I would be joining my mother in Heaven” or lofty thoughts about God or Heaven or Angels etc. I am sorry to disillusion, but that is the stuff novelists write. I had no worthy thoughts beyond those needed to cope with the immediate situation. My therapist says the normal response to such a violent threat to life is called the “Fright and Flight Response”. I can assure you that for some time, nothing else mattered. For some time even after I landed in New Jersey I still thought I would die because of my overtaxed heart. Only when I could see that safety and survival was a possibility, did my mind turn to how to get in touch with Barbara and how to get to safety.

Post Sept 11

Richard Stark

5th floor (Room 530)

In the years after Sept 11, I have learned a number things about that event of interest to me.

 

1. There were 5 Firemen from Ladder 12 lost that day. Three in upper floors of the Marriott checking to see that everyone got out. This is what Big Angel and Little Angel were doing.

 

2.  37 Firemen were in the lobby of the Marriott waiting for instructions when the lobby collapsed and they all died. There were 2 managers of Marriott in the lobby, when the collapse came, one  ran one direction and the other ran the opposite direction. One died and one survived. In all, 343 Firemen perished that day, mostly in the Towers.

 

3. When the plane struck the North Tower, an engine went completely through the building and landed on the glass dome covering the swimming pool at the top of the Marriott. It fell through the dome, into the pool and punctured its bottom. The pool water drained down an elevator shaft into the basement of the Marriott.

 

4. A writer trying to piece together the story of Marriott survivors, concluded that I was in the stairwell before the first tower fell and was still there when the second tower fell some 28 minutes later. That is not my recollection, but I am told that I would not be reliable witness. I thought I left before the second Tower fell.

 

5. The 22 story Marriott was reduced to a 4 story pile of rubble. The stairwell where I was on the 4th floor remained somewhat intact because it had been reinforced following the first WTC bombing in 1993.

 

6. The South Tower fell leaning slightly to the East, so the pressure on the Marriott to the West was

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