Run the 105-storey stairs to escape the 9/11 tragedy

The moment two passenger planes crashed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Joe Dittmar miraculously escaped death when he ran down 105 flights of stairs.

For Joe Dittmar, 64, his escape from the 105th floor of the Twin Towers 20 years ago still haunts him and could continue for the rest of his life. While on the 105th floor, he received orders to immediately evacuate the building for unknown reasons. When he ran down to the 90th floor, Dittmar experienced “the worst 30-40 seconds of his life”, it was only then that he realized what was happening.

“That was the moment when I first looked out the window and saw an unbelievable scene,” Dittmar recalls the scene of the North Tower being attacked, which he described as “horrific”, when five hijackers took control. commercial aircraft carrying 76 passengers, 11 crew members, plunged into the area from the 93rd to the 99th floor of the North Tower.

He witnessed the plane stuck in the tower and everyone and their belongings hopelessly thrown into the air.

“I was scared, really scared,” Dittmar said.

Joe Dittmar's visitor card to enter the World Trade Center building on 9/11.  Photo: Nine.

Joe Dittmar’s visitor card to enter the World Trade Center building on 9/11. Photo: Nine

Moments later, as Dittmar had descended to about the 73rd floor, another commercial flight piloted by the hijacker continued to crash into the South Tower where he was standing and crashed into the area from the 77th to the 85th floor, just above him. about a dozen floors.

The terrifying impact caused cracks to appear in the floor, while the ground shook like waves.” Dittmar had smelled a strange smell: jet fuel.

Because the phone didn’t work, Dittmar and the other escapees still didn’t know what happened and continued to move downstairs. Here, he saw a pile of high heels, bags, laptops left behind, while many women panicked running barefoot down below.

When they reached the 35th floor, Dittmar and the group of people running down were met by a group of New York police, firefighters and paramedics going upstairs.

“They know they’re going forward to fight the fire they can’t put out, going forward to save the people they can’t save. I don’t know how they can be so brave,” Dittmar said. told.

Joe Dittmar shares his horrifying experience on 9/11 with students in 2017. Photo: ISU Student Media.

Joe Dittmar shares his terrifying experience on September 11 with students in 2017. Photo: ISU Student Media.

Finally, after running more than 100 flights of stairs, Dittmar reached the ground floor lobby, but no one was allowed out. Debris kept falling from the two towers and many people also jumped out, creating a terrifying scene. The group was then led by emergency personnel to a room in the basement of the World Trade Center building.

When the clock struck 9:59, Dittmar was brought upstairs and began to leave the shelter room. The police kept shouting loudly asking them to leave quickly and not to come back. Six hours after entering the South Tower for a meeting, Dittmar was finally able to call his family and announce he was still alive.

“I heard the screams of hundreds, thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands of people, all at once, all over the streets of New York,” Dittmar said. “It was the first sound I heard that morning and the last sound that still haunts me every night. It can’t go away.”

Ngoc Anh (Follow Nine News)

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