Transcripts 421-440



We get down to about Barclay and Vesey Street, which is a block away from the overpass, the bridge overpass that goes across the West Side Highway. All you hear is a rumbling in the street. It sounded like an earthquake. When I was a younger kid, I was in an earthquake and it felt like the same exact feeling. I looked, and I could see the antenna on the top of the roof coming straight down.



Actually as we heard a radio transmission of "Collapse, collapse, collapse," that's when everybody just went their own way. I looked up and I saw the top couple of floors starting to come down. So I took off into the building directly across from the World Trade Center, which was –
Q. On the west side of
West Street?
West side of West Street, which was probably the World Financial Center, it was called. We ran in there, a few of us, about 10, 12 guys. We ran into the building, ran about 50 yards to the rear of the building and dove behind a wall. Then we heard the tremendous roar and collapse of the first tower coming down.

There were numerous burning materials. There were car fires. We proceeded to try to extinguish some of them, but there was a big problem with the water. There was very low water pressure. We did have a problem with that, but we did the best we could trying to extinguish the perimeter fires all around the area.

Then basically after that the fire boats came in, because we had no water. So basically most of the day and the next couple of hours I was stretching line from the fire boat. I teamed up with a bunch of guys getting water from the fire boat in front of the Trade Center.



Maybe on the second floor I thought I heard a little bit of an explosion or something. Later on we found out that there was a – there was a Port Authority guy on the staircase in our vicinity. He confirmed that another plane had hit the other tower.

A couple guys were behind us, so we had to stop maybe two times as we were going up. We climbed up to the 23rd floor. We were waiting for a couple of our guys to come up. They finally hooked up with us, and we took a break. There was a water display thing like for sodas and everything. We got into that, because we were just overheating. We took, I don't know, a five-minute break there. Then we heard a rumble. We heard it and we felt the whole building shake. It was like being on a train, being in an earthquake. A train is more like it, because with the train you hear the rumbling, and it kind of like moved you around in the hall. Then it just stopped after eight or ten seconds, about the time it took for the building to come down.



We began, with the Port Authority cops, to come down the stairs. As soon as we got into the stairway, the building started shaking like an earthquake. I thought our building was coming down. My mind was saying there's some kind of wind compensator up there in the upper floors, a big, huge vat of cement. Did you ever heard of that? I know the building moved.

Q. Yeah.

A. There’s some kind of huge ton of weight up there. Its a huge vat filled with cement and it shifts. When the wind is blowing one way, it shifts to the other way with the wind to compensate. I thought if that thing shakes and comes loose from it's supports, we’re fucking dead. So that’s what I thought it was. I thought our building was starting to collapse.

With that, as soon as I said that, the building made a groan like steel twisting. I didn’t have to tell those guys twice. We just started making a B line for West Street or the western side, the entrance we came in. with that, we ran out the front. There was, I think, a chief’s aide sort of as a lookout saying, “Come on. Come on. Come on.” We stopped at the entrance as soon as he waved us on, we go. We get to him. He was maybe 50 yards ahead of us, in front of us. On West Street I get to him and he says, “Look at the building, Lou. The other one collapsed, and this one is collapsing.” He showed me, about 20 stories up you see a crack in the building. I look, “Holy shit, the other building’s gone.”



Q. How did you know it was collapsing? Did you hear the noise?
A. The noise immediately -- as soon as I heard it, we knew it was coming down. It wasn't like, oh, what the hell is that? It was like a noise you never hear in your whole life. It came down. I only ran like five feet when I got hit with stuff.



We were actually one of the first companies on the scene. We pulled up right in front of One World Trade Center, right into the cul-de-sac right in front of the canopy. So we got off the rig. I noticed there were several people sitting in the grass in front of the building burned head to toe, gray, just staring at us. The captain ordered us to grab four rollups. We went into the building. We went into the lobby. The lobby actually looked like the plane hit the lobby. From what I understand, I was told afterwards, that a fireball shot down the elevator shaft and blew out all the windows in the lobby and blew out the elevator doors. We searched for an elevator to see if there was one operating. There was none.

I was watching one guy hang onto the outside of the building, the outside of the north tower while I was standing under the bridge. Then there were police officers talking about a third plane coming into the area. Then a few minutes passed. I was standing under the bridge. We had heard a loud rumble, and people just started running in our direction from the Trade Center toward us. I never even looked up. We just turned around and started running.



I don’t know if I say something to Larry or just point to him. In my mind the intention was to go over and see Galvin and find out where the command post was, exactly where the command post was. As we were walking towards him, about, I’d say, six to eight feet from Galvin, and a lot of guys are looking at him, but the one guy, Freddie Scheffold from the 12th Battalion, he looked at me, I looked at him. You know how you make eye contact with somebody and you acknowledge each other, it's just that nod, I know he sees me, at that exact moment I can feel – or hear the noise first. I hear a noise. Right after that noise, you could feel the building start to shudder, tremble, under your feet. Somebody said to me, “What's going on?” I said, “What's going on? The fucking building is coming down.” I actually said, “The fucking building coming down. This goddamn building is coming down.” I knew what was coming down. The building I was in was coming down. I looked real quick forward. I didn’t like that option because it was a big, high lobby, a lot of glass. I figured it was not that well supported. I remember seeing those columns. Whoever was next to me – I thought it was Telesca, but it ended up being Myers, Brian Meyers. He said, “Where are we going?” I turned and said, “We’re going back to those columns.” I remember taking a few steps and trying to run, and you’re either thrown or blown off your feet. I remember I ended up my face was right up against a wall, a column was right near my left shoulder, a big column. That’s it. It was a terrible noise. Besides the building shuddering, the sound was horrendous. To me it sounded like steel cutting through steel. That’s how I explain it. You’re laying there. There's stuff hitting you. I had my right hand up behind my head and neck, and I just said let it be merciful, because you think it's all over. There's stuff hitting but nothing – the stuff is debris flying around.

I started walking west. I don’t think I get more than 100 feet up past the curb line heading west on that street, and the first thing I hear is this roar and people screaming. I have a chance to look over my left shoulder. As I'm looking over my left shoulder, I see a shadow coming towards me. I thought it was another plane. I didn’t think the building was coming down. I thought it was another plane. I couldn’t believe it.



Everything was dark. Water was coming down and everything like that, and then the shit hit the fan. Just everything started rumbling, a lot of noise. Turned around, went back the way I came, got probably five steps through the doorway I had just came. I don't even know if I got to that, because there was a walk -- there were bars in front of that that weren't there any more, got knocked off my feet and sent -- was buried under some stuff and pushed across the floor, and after everything stopped dug ourselves out, put the flashlight on, yelled for each other and then exited the building.

Guys were giving us water, wet rags to put on our head, and we were standing there, and there was a cop I knew who came by and gave me a drink of water, and then as he was standing there, he said, Aviation just reported that the north tower is leaning." I said, "Which way is it leaning?" He said,"This way." So we started to turn around walking. John Malley, who was right behind me, I turned around for him, because he was doing something, either putting his coat on or something, and as I was looking at him I heard the explosion, looked up, and saw like three floors explode, saw the antenna coming down, and turned around and ran north.



So we probably were in the building maybe a minute in the lobby of the tower, whichever one we were in, and that's when it came down. But I thought it was an explosion in the hotel, because all the debris came down, it was pitch-black, the whole building shook.

Then I was standing in front of the north tower when that collapsed. I heard the noise, looked up, saw the rumble. I was right on the north corner, the north part on West Street. When it started to fall, Billy Wall from 47 yelled "Run!" to his men.



So we went into the lobby just a few feet towards the elevator banks, and our lieutenant said "Stand fast, open up your coats, cool off a few minutes, and I'm going to go see what we gotta do." And it seemed like maybe it was a minute. It wasn't that long at all, and we heard this sound that kind of sounded like an airplane. We thought it was another airplane hitting the towers. That's exactly what it sounded like, you know, and it gradually got louder. And someone yelled, "It's coming towards the windows," like the front of the Marriott that might have been like an atrium or something like that.



We had a view of the burning World Trade Centers. When we crossed the 59th Street bridge, we heard over the radio people screaming that there was a building collapse. We crossed Manhattan, went down the west side. We went down past Vesey Street, past the pedestrian bridge. We stopped the MERV. There was a lot of smoke. We started helping a few injured firefighters who came on the MERV van for treatment. Then we felt a rumble. My partner, who was the driver, told me that he thinks there's another collapse, so we have to egress by foot and leave the vehicle, and it was a rapid, running egress from the area with other police officers, firefighters and civilians to avoid the debris and dust cloud.



While there, we were looking up at the fire and we heard a loud rumble; and when we looked up, that was the start of the collapse. When the building collapsed, ironically we had a building behind us that had an underground garage, and we all ran into that underground garage. In that underground garage we were trapped for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.



22 engine went up before us. 13 truck went up before us, and then one of our guys -- one of the guys from 13 truck. Our guy went in with 13 truck, and he was coming down with the guy from 13 truck to bring the elevator to us, and when he was either going up or coming down the elevator, that's when the south tower collapsed, and it sounded like a bunch of explosions. You heard like loud booms, but I guess it was all just stuff coming down, and then we got covered with rubble and dust, and I thought we'd actually fallen through the floor into like the PATH tubes, because it was so dark you couldn't see anything, and from there it was a little hazy from there on, but I remember our lieutenant trying to take us back out through the Marriott the way we came, but that was -- we couldn't go through that way, and we ended up coming out through -- I guess it was the base of the north tower out onto West Street, and ended up -- me and another guy put on one of the ambulances, and we were just waiting to leave on the ambulance.



So besides making sure everyone was okay, we were waiting there. Maybe we were on the 31st hallway for approximately five minutes when all of a sudden a large crashing, thundering, roaring -- it's almost impossible to really explain with those words, but it was so much more noise than I could ever really explain clearly. The members that were nearby, we all went and got down on our hands and knees on the floor, not knowing what this was, walls, floor. I had no idea. I had no idea what was happening until I got out of the building later in the day I had found out what happened. Later in the day I found out what was going on when all of us were on the floor and all that roaring was going on was the south tower collapsing.

I knew the north tower had come down, but not until really I was done running at Stuyvesant High School had I found out that the south tower was the noise I had heard when we were still on the 31st floor. That's when I realized that both buildings were down was after I came back out into the street from Stuyvesant High School.