Tag Archives: interviews with September 11 survivors

After listening 9 11 survivors stories, please share with us your 9 11 story. What were you doing? What did you feel when you heard the tragic news? We are all united in this tragedy.

Our lives have been touched and changed by 9/11. We cannot change what happened that day, we cannot change the fatalities. What we can do, here and now, together, is to ensure that truth, hope, love and peace live on; we can ensure that truth, hope, love and peace are not going to be fatalities. We owe this to the people who perished in 9/11, to the innocent people born on that tragic day. We owe it to ourselves.

September 11 changed the way I looked at the World. I was in Boston, and just for a lucky series of events, I delayed my flight to NYC from Boston Logan airport. May flowers blossom from a tragedy.

Peace and metta,


9/11 Survivors Remembers Experience
Available on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f7QWFwXtb4

9 11 survivors stories: interviews with September 11 survivors

9 11 survivors stories: interviews with September 11 survivors

Brian Clark (September 11 attacks survivor)
Brian Clark is one of the survivors of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. A Canadian, Clark worked for the international brokerage firm Euro Brokers, which lost 61 employees that day, nearly a fifth of its New York branch. [1]

Clark was one of only four people in the South Tower to escape from a floor above the plane’s impact. No one escaped above the impact point in the North Tower.

The second impact occurred at 9:03 a.m. just a few floors below Clark’s floor. Clark turned on his fire-warden flashlight and gathered his remaining colleagues, a party of seven. They started down one of the three stairwells. When they got to the 81st floor they encountered two people who were trying to ascend to the roof, where they thought they could get fresher air. The pair of people ascending from the lower floor described the stairs as impassable, blocked by fire and smoke. They tried to convince Clark’s party to join them in climbing higher. Those reaching the top floor would have encountered locked doors barring access to the roof (and in any case smoke and heat prevented any helicopter rescue from the roof) and were killed when the tower collasped.

Clark was called out of this debate when he heard a voice calling for help. Some of the drywall that was supposed to enclose the stairwell had fallen away, so Clark and his co-worker Ron Di Francesco left the others to seek out that voice. Di Francesco was soon overcome by smoke and returned to the stairway by himself.

Stanley Praimnath had been buried under some fallen debris. With Clark’s help he was able to extricate himself, and when they returned to the stairwell, the others were already gone, so Clark and Praimnath elected to descend instead of heading upward after them. According to an interview with both of them in a special documentary aired in 2005, Praimnath was so grateful that Clark had rescued him, that he hugged and kissed his savior, rather surprising Clark.

Clark and Praimnath’s descent through the floors of the impact was impeded by some debris and smoke, but by removing the debris, it was passable.[9]

The airliner that struck the North Tower struck it perpendicular to the north face, its impact severing all the elevators and all three stairwells. The airliner that struck the South Tower struck at an angle. It severed two stairwells but left Stairway A, the one they were using, more or less intact.

A few floors below the impact, they encountered one of Clark’s colleagues, José Marrero, ascending and using a walkie-talkie. Marrero had received a call from another of Clark’s colleagues above, David Vera, saying his party needed help. Clark tried to convince his colleague not to ascend but Marrero insisted on going higher to help Vera and the others.

At the Skylobby on the 44th floor Clark and Praimnath encountered a Port Authority employee, who was tending to a severely injured tenant. He told them that all the phones were out on that floor. He asked them, when they had access to a working phone, to have someone send an EMT to care for this injured tenant.

The phones were working in Oppenheimer’s offices on the 31st floor. Clark was on the telephone for over three minutes before his 911 call was understood. This call might have been the only chance for rescue workers to learn that there was a clear stairwell that the several hundred people trapped above the impact could try to use to escape. Clark described how he and Praimnath did not feel a sense of urgency, and before calling 911 they each made one brief personal call.

When they got to the ground floor there were rescue workers, and one advised them to run, once they exited onto Liberty Street on the south side of the complex.

Clark described how, when they had gotten about two blocks away, Praimnath told him he thought the buildings were going to go. Clark was skeptical, repeating how solidly built the towers were, but he did not finish his sentence before Tower Two started to collapse.

Praimnath thanked Clark for saving his life.[9] But Clark, in turn, also thanked Praimnath since he felt that the act of going and freeing Praimnath drew him out of a debate that might have ended with him joining the others who went up to their deaths. His Euro Brokers colleague Ron DiFrancesco, who had initially turned around because of the smoke, mustered the strength to resume the descent, and was one of the last people to escape the South tower before its collapse; he awoke three days later in hospital, suffering from extensive burns and a head laceration. All told, they were among only four people who managed to escape from above the impact zone in Tower 2. Richard Fern, a Euro Brokers IT manager, was the fourth.

An additional fourteen escaped from the impact zone itself, mostly from the upper sky lobby which bore the brunt of the impact and left scores dead.

Sixty-one of Clark’s co-workers were killed in the incident. Clark was later appointed by his company’s management to be President of the Euro Brokers Relief Fund, created to help take financial care of the families of those who were lost. He retired in 2006, a year after Euro Brokers merged with another company.

September 11 survivor devotes herself to others
From Abc.net.au. Edie Lutnick lost her brother and 658 colleagues in the September 11 attacks and has devoted the past decade to helping the families of victims.

TONY JONES: Now, by a stroke of luck, extraordinary luck, really, you were not in the World Trade Center that morning. How did you learn what had happened?

EDIE LUTNICK: I was actually scheduled to have a meeting. My office was on the 101st floor. And I received, like so many people around the world, telephone calls that said, “Turn on the television. Turn on the television.” And I did.

And so I saw what was going on and, you know, just the devastating destruction that took both my brother and so many people that we knew and loved and worked with and, you know, I’ve now come to know by taking care of their families over the last 10 years.

TONY JONES: The plane actually hit on the 92nd floor or around the 92nd floor. Your brother Gary and the other 657 Cantor Fitzgerald employees were above that, as you say, on the floors from 101 and the next three or four floors above that. Did you at first think because they weren’t hit in the initial explosion from the plane that they’d been spared?

EDIE LUTNICK: Um, no. You know, I – you have to understand, and I go into this in the book, An Unbroken Bond, but, you know, I worked on 101st floor, my brother Gary worked on the 104th floor, my brother Howard worked on the 105th floor. Cantor had floors 101 through 105.

And as I saw the planes go in, I received a phone call from my brother Gary and my initial reaction was, you know, that he wasn’t there, since both of my brothers had been spared in the bombing in 1993. And – but once I spoke to him, I knew that he wasn’t going to survive and based on where they were in the building that nobody was going to survive.

And then my brother Howard, who was taking his son to his first day of kindergarten, ran down to the site and he also knew because he was there when the buildings collapsed that no-one that we knew who was up on Cantor’s floors during that time period was going to survive.

TONY JONES: So when Gary rang you, he knew he was trapped, did he? He knew that he wouldn’t be able to get out?

EDIE LUTNICK: Yes. He – you know, as I said, I go into this in the book, you know – but he knew that he was not going to live.

TONY JONES: They were extraordinary moments because throughout New York, throughout the United States and even throughout the world, people were calling their relatives from those buildings, and of course they must have been the most extraordinary calls of all because many of them, most of them probably were the last time that people would speak to their loved ones.

EDIE LUTNICK: Well, sure. But, you know, the thing that I’d like to focus on if it’s OK is that 9/11 was a terrible tragedy that day and what we lost was horrific, but as a result of that, you know, I have found myself in the middle of a story that has yet to be told, which is: what was the 10 years like for these families? What has this 10 years brought to us with respect to the memorial and with respect to how our government has been involved with us?

There’s so much that we can learn from what happened on 9/11 and so many issues that are still resolved and, you know, that we still need to take a look at as a society. I think that educating people about 9/11 and the 10 years after and even beyond this anniversary is what we can take away from 9/11, beyond the initial tragedy.

TONY JONES: OK, let’s talk about that because the question remains – I mean, you were extremely close to your brother Gary. In fact you brought him up not only as a sister, but almost as a mother because you lost both your parents.

So how did you manage to get through that loss? That’s the question everyone finds incomprehensible. And I know I’ve seen you say you partly did it by finding a mission larger than yourself.

EDIE LUTNICK: I think that that’s – I think that that’s correct. You know, on September 13th my brother Howard in the midst of all of this called me and said, “Edie, I want to start a charity to take care of the families and I need to you run it.” And my initial thought was that he had lost his mind, that I was in no condition to do this, and really, there were so many people that were better qualified to do this and in better shape than I was.

And I started thinking about who those people were, and then I realised they were all gone. And so I said OK because I wanted to help – you know, if losing Gary was bringing me into the state that it had brought me in, I couldn’t even imagine what my brother Howard was going through.

I mean, he lost his brother, he lost all these people that he had hired and his company was basically in the rubble. So, we started this charity and taking care of people, you know, was helpful.

Howard always says that it takes a broken heart to heel a broken heart, and I think that these families have helped me in my journey towards healing every bit as much as I’ve been able to help them.

TONY JONES: The core to that – because Cantor Fitzgerald suffered greater losses than any other institution, certainly than any other company in New York at the time. You would think it would just have shut up its doors and closed down, but the key to what you’ve done was actually to keep the company alive.

EDIE LUTNICK: Well, you know, in An Unbroken Bond I go through the fact that, you know, on September 10th we had 960 employees. On September 11th after we had figured everything out, we had 302.

Now the company has 1,600 in New York. And the reason that the firm survived was that it was so important to the survivors and to Howard that we have a firm that’s still standing, that you can say, “This is where my mommy worked, this is where my daddy worked,” for the children who were yet to be born or who had just recently been born or who were very, very young.

So that when this became, you know, history, as opposed to an event that happened at the moment, that they would have something that they could look at and say, “This is where they worked.” And now we actually have some of those children interning and working at Cantor Fitzgerald.

TONY JONES: Now, by all accounts Howard’s a very tough man and some of his competitors were actually quite happy in a sort of horrible way to see him on his knees. They hoped the company would go down. Did he see it as a challenge to keep the company alive or as his responsibility to keep it alive?

EDIE LUTNICK: I don’t think it was either of those things. I think that, you know, this was something that he and the survivors wanted to do in love and memory of those that we had lost. And he pledged 25 per cent of the profits of the firm and 10 years of health care, which has resulted in our giving away over $180 million to the families of those we lost and some – those who were eligible still have health care today.

TONY JONES: Yes. But it was interesting for Howard though because he went – in the eyes of the media he went from hero when he was on Larry King shedding tears for all those lost, to villain when a few days afterwards he cut the pay cheques of the families of the victims who were lost or dead.

Yes, I know, but that’s how it was portrayed. You remember that so some of the family members were very critical of him at the time. He must have gone through a pretty tough period then because he claims he did that because he had to.

EDIE LUTNICK: You know, it’s not a claim; it was reality, and I would urge you and those who watched – you know, who are watching your show now to read An Unbroken Bond because it also has the story of Cantor Fitzgerald’s recovery in it as well as the journey of the families.

But, the reality is that there was no other choice. If – you cannot continue pay cheques when two thirds of your workforce is gone. They are the revenue producers for the firm. There is no money.

What has been going on with respect to being able to try to keep the firm is an extraordinarily difficult set of circumstances. Howard made tough decisions that had to be made. You know, the portrayal at the time as if somehow he had a choice in this and chose to, you know, stop pay cheques is just not correct.

And the reality is as we stand here today with a rebuilt firm and a sea of strangers whose only thing they had in common was the fact that their loved ones had been murdered while at work at Cantor Fitzgerald who are now a community that have gone forward, healing together, and he has been able to honour every commitment that he ever made above and beyond to our families, I think that we can all in hindsight say, “You know what? He made the choices that he had to make. They were tough choices. He was, you know, erroneously set upon, and the families of Cantor Fitzgerald are much better off as a result of the decisions that he has made.”

TONY JONES: And we should make the point here that in fact some of his harshest critics among the families all came around in the end and decided that what he’d done was the right thing.

EDIE LUTNICK: That’s correct. There wasn’t a choice.

TONY JONES: Sure. It took nearly 10 years for the US to track down and kill the man who ordered the attacks, Osama bin Laden. You’ve been critical of the idea that this would actually bring closure to the victims of 9/11. Tell us why.

EDIE LUTNICK: You know, one of the things that I say in An Unbroken Bond is that the word closure tells you who deeply understands this tragedy and who doesn’t. When you have loved and lost someone, there is no closure, in any set of circumstances.

And when you have loved and lost someone in such a public way and it comes up over and over again when tragedy strikes all over the place, there is no closure. And there shouldn’t be closure, because 9/11 is something that unfortunately is now part of all of our realities, all over the world. We have two families that are Australian. And this is something that we need to look at, we need to learn from, we need to analyse, we need to teach our children about.

And the best way I heard somebody say it, and they said it in relation to the death of Osama bin Laden, they said that it’s a comma, not a period. The 10-year anniversary is a milestone, it’s the ability for us to look at how we’ve spent these last 10 years, how we can do it better going forward. But it’s not an ending, it’s not a closure.