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Survivor of September 11 attacks tells his story
USA Today (www.usatoday.com) has published an article that tells the story of Alan Mann, 35, who was inside an elevator in the World Trade Center on September 11, but managed to survive.
Alan Mann, 35, an executive vice president at Aon Corp., an insurance company, squeezed into an express elevator packed with 25 people evacuating the south tower. He was the last person in. The doors closed. The elevator descended normally for the first seconds of a ride to the ground floor that should have lasted 60 seconds. Then United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower, tearing through the elevator machine room on the 81st floor. That cut most cables to the express elevators. Elevator No. 13 began a free fall from 900 feet above ground. [...]
Thanks to Lgf for the link. I copy the full article below.
Plunge just the start of nightmare
Passenger elevator No. 13. South tower, 78th floor. 9:02 a.m.Alan Mann, 35, an executive vice president at Aon Corp., an insurance company, squeezed into an express elevator packed with 25 people evacuating the south tower. He was the last person in. The doors closed. The elevator descended normally for the first seconds of a ride to the ground floor that should have lasted 60 seconds. Then United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower, tearing through the elevator machine room on the 81st floor. That cut most cables to the express elevators. Elevator No. 13 began a free fall from 900 feet above ground.
"Get on your knees!" somebody screamed. Everybody knelt. People prayed aloud. The elevator fell, banging against the sides of the shaft. As the plunging car neared the ground, the emergency brake grabbed onto the thinnest of nine elevator cables — the only one remaining — and the elevator jerked to a stop.
Mann found himself trapped in a corner of the elevator, lying on top of someone. Debris and dust filled his mouth. Other passengers screamed and moaned. He heard other elevators crashing nearby.
It was dark. A man unpacked his laptop computer and turned it on for light. Injured people begged others not to move because it caused them pain. He could see two Aon colleagues, Alan Friedlander and Donna Giordano.
"Alan, I'm hurt," Giordano sobbed.
"Donna, don't worry, we're going to get out of this thing," Mann said.
Then, somebody yelled, "Oh my God, fire!" Burning jet fuel shot flames into the car, burning Mann's neck. He gasped for breath.
I'm going to die the worst possible death, Mann thought. My wife is going to be a single mother.
Someone was praying, repeating, "In God's name, in God's name."
Mann told himself: Don't give up. He crawled over people — some dead, some alive — to the other side of the elevator. There, two men and a woman were trying to push aside a piece of metal outside the elevator where the doors once were; the metal was blocking the exit.
Mann helped rip off a piece of metal but cut his left hand badly. He stuck his head through a small hole near the elevator floor and tried to push himself through. He couldn't fit. He was 10 feet above the lobby floor but couldn't get out.
He pulled his head back inside the burning elevator and pushed a petite woman out the hole. The woman hit the floor hard but stood up. "Go get help! Go get help!" Mann yelled.
She stood there, dazed.
Mann put his feet into the hole and squeezed out feet first, crashing to the floor. He was barefoot and shirtless, his pants shredded.
The lobby was deserted. He walked through revolving doors and found four firefighters in the underground shopping mall. He brought them back to the elevator. "You need to help these people," he said. He fled the building and ended up in an ambulance.
Everybody else in the elevator died, including Friedlander and Giordano. Mann doesn't know what happened to the woman.
Mann had numerous injuries: burns, nerve damage to his arms and legs, a deep cut that limits use of his left hand. He's back at work now, but his 12-hour days are in the past. Mann spends more time with his wife and daughters.
"I got a second chance on life."
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