Desperate people leap from collapsing towers

By Helen O’neill

Associated Press

NEW YORK – It was the scene of a nightmare: people on fire jumping in terror from the Trade Towers just before the buildings collapsed.

“Everyone was screaming, crying, running, cops, people, firefighters, everyone,” said Mike Smith, a fire marshal from Queens, as he sat by the fountain outside the Supreme Court building, shortly after the second tower collapsed. “A couple of marshals just picked me up and dragged me down the street.”

“It’s like a war zone. There are many injured.”

This was the horror unfolding in New York City in the wake of an apparent terrorist attack.

“I just saw the building I work in come down,” said businessman Gabriel Ioan, shaking in shock outside City Hall a cloud of smoke and ash from the World Trade Center behind him. “I just saw the top of Trade Two come down.”

Nearby a crowd mobbed a man on a pay-phone, screaming at him to get off the phone so that they could call relatives. Dust and dirt flew everywhere. Ash was 2 to 3 inches deep in places. People wandered dazed and terrified.

“People were jumping out of windows,” said an unidentified crying woman. “I guess people were trying to save themselves. Oh my God!”

“I was in the World Financial Center looking out the window,” said one woman. “I saw the first plane and then 15 minutes later saw the other plane just slam into the World Trade Center.”

Another eyewitness, AP newsman Dunstan Prial, described a strange sucking sound from the Trade Center buildings after the first building collapsed.

“Windows shattered. People were screaming and diving for cover. People walked around like ghosts, covered in dirt, weeping and wandering dazed.”

“It sounded like a jet or rocket,” said Eddie Gonzalez, a postal worker at a post office on West Broadway. “I looked up and saw a huge explosion. I didn’t see the impact. I just saw the explosion.”

Morning commuters heading into Manhattan were stranded as the Lincoln Tunnel was shut down to incoming traffic. Many left their cars and stood on the ramp leading to the tunnel, staring in disbelief at the thick cloud of smoke pouring from the top of the two buildings.

On the streets of Manhattan, people stood in groups talking quietly or watching on television at ground-level network studios.

Joan Goldstein, communications project leader for The Associated Press, was on a bus from New Jersey at about 8:50 a.m. when she saw “smoke pouring out of the World Trade Center building. We said, ‘Oh, my God! The World Trade Center’s on fire!”

Perhaps 10 minutes later, “All of a sudden, there was an orange plume, a huge explosion. It shot out the back of the building. Everybody on the bus was just moaning and gasping,” said Goldstein, who wept and trembled as she spoke.

The plume was from the second plane, but she didn’t see the plane because of the thick smoke.

She tried to call friends who work there, but couldn’t get through.

“It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Goldstein.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mel Jennings sits in his structure during a point-in-time count of people facing homelessness in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Mel has had a brain and spinal surgery, and currently has been homeless for a year. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Annual homeless count aims to give snapshot of housing crisis

Volunteers set out into the rain Tuesday to count all the people facing homelessness in central Everett.

Catherine Berwicks loads ballots into a tray after scanning them at the Snohomish County Elections Ballot Processing Center on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Everett, Wa.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Lawmakers push to boost voting in county jails across the state

A House bill envisions an approach similar to what’s been happening in the Snohomish County Jail for several years.

Vandalism at Seaview Park on Jan. 21, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Edmonds Police Department)
Police seek suspects in repeated vandalism at Edmonds parks

Vandals have done over $10,000 of damage to parks across the city, including suspected arson and graffiti with hate speech.

One worker looks up from the cargo area as another works in what will be the passenger compartment on one of the first Boeing 787 jets as it stands near completion at the front of the assembly line, Monday, May 19, 2008, in Everett, Wash. The plane, the first new Boeing jet in 14 years, is targeted for power on in June followed by an anticipated first flight sometime late in 2008.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Boeing workers long-exposed to carcinogen far above legal limits

The company confirmed in depositions that parts of its Everett plant still don’t meet 2010 standards.

CarlaRae Arneson, of Lynnwood, grabs a tea press full of fresh tea from Peanut the server robot while dining with her 12-year-old son Levi at Sushi Hana on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. CarlaRae said she and her son used to visit the previous restaurant at Sushi Hana’s location and were excited to try the new business’s food. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Peanut the robot waitress is on a roll at Lynnwood’s Sushi Hana

She’s less RoboCop and more Rosey as she patrols the restaurant, making sure everyone has a drink and good time.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
Boeing settles with Everett security guard claiming chemical exposure

Holly Hawthorne was assigned to Building 45-335 at the south end of Paine Field, while employees used aerosolized chemical sprays nearby.

A section of contaminated Wicks tidelands on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port acquisition marks next step in toxic cleanup on Everett waterfront

Private owners donated land near the contaminated Wicks Tide Flats to the Port of Everett. Cleanup work could begin within the year.

FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Democrats advance assault weapons ban, new rules for gun buyers

The measures passed a House committee without Republican support. They are part of a broader agenda to curb gun violence.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown and the victim of a brutal attack in 2018 answer questions from reporters on Jan. 27, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Jake Goldstein-Street / The Herald)
White supremacists sentenced for racist beating at Lynnwood bar

A federal judge handed out stiffer sentences than prosecutors had asked for in a series of sentencing hearings Friday.

Most Read