Feb 22, 2014

First-Responder Eyewitnesses to the Planes that Hit the WTC on 9/11

Note: This is not a comprehensive list.

Most of the quotes listed below are taken from the 9/11 Oral Histories, archived at the New York Times and taken from the World Trade Center Task Force Interviews. They can be found here: 

"But then we are driving and now we are like, we are about a half mile out, halfway from the World Trade Center and we see this shiny object coming and me and my partner are going, what the hell, what's wrong with that plane.  What is wrong with that plane. There is something not right with that plane.  And he just -- the tower blew."

"Okay.  We heard the explosions from the kitchen.  We went up on the roof and got there just in time to see the second plane hit the towers.  So we figured we would be going on that.  So we ran downstairs.  By the time we got down to the apparatus floor, we got the ticket. It was about five after 9:00."

"We approached the building, and we heard some loud noise.  We felt some rumbling, so we looked up, and there was another plane coming in. Went behind, I guess it banked around another building, so at that time we didn't really see it hit the building, but we heard it, and we felt it, and we saw it approaching."

"At that time, we heard a lot of talking on the radio and I got a call from Captain Mark Stone saying to load up vehicle 849, a Suburban, and be waiting for him downstairs.  As he arrived, we proceeded down to the north tower of World Trade Center.  As we were proceeding through the Battery Park tunnel, as we came out, we saw the second plane hit the south tower. At that time, traffic was very dense and it was very hard to get through."

"I got  in at 8 o'clock in the morning.  The first plane had hit a little later. We watched it from the roof of the building.  Then they called us to a staging area around quarter to nine I think which would be the Brooklyn battery tunnel. From  the Brooklyn battery tunnel staging area we watched the second plane come in.  As soon as the  second  plane came in they sent  us into the tunnel."

"I looked out the window. I could see the smoke blowing off the World Trade Center. Several moments later I noticed a second plane and I commented to myself, look at this nitwit, he's so close, and before I realized it, he had crashed into the side of the south tower."

"I set it up on the tripod in the window facing the Trade Center enclosing the top of -- the top, more like where the cash area was and I started the tape and as I was getting my fire gear ready looking out the window again, when we saw the second plane crash into the second tower. I left the tape running and I knew it was not an accident, you know, that this happened. So I gave Jim Murphy a little instruction on how to change the tape and he left the tape running."

"I then went and did reconnaissance of the exterior of the north tower. I saw we had numerous floors on the upper levels on fire, approximately eight floors with fire showing. As I was going around the far side of the north tower, I then saw the second plane hit the south tower. I immediately went into the lobby of the north tower to take command of operations."

"I left my rollup and my standpipe kit in the lobby. I went outside to the rig, changed the cylinder. While I was changing the cylinder, I was keeping an eye because the chauffeur was hooking up to the standpipe. I was keeping an eye, making sure he didn't get hit with anything.
It was at that time when I saw the second plane hit the building. I called a mayday. I told them the second plane hit the south tower of the building. I wasn't sure which floors it was, but I knew it hit the upper floors of the south tower. Debris was falling, body parts were falling.  We ducked for cover inside Engine 7, but the rig was getting bombarded with debris from the building, debris from the plane. We saw bodies crash landing right next to the rig. So we couldn't stay there."
"As I'm staring at the hole in tower, I walked across the street,  across Sixth Ave.  to the west side of Sixth Avenue,  to see Tower 2,  and at the time Tower 2 was intact. It wasn't touched yet. I looked down  at my son and I repeated to him I couldn't believe what was going on, and I told him, oh, my god, and heard people calling oh my god, look, look, and as I looked up, the second plane hit the second tower and there was a humongous fireball rolling up the side of the building."

"We locked up the car, started heading across Church Street when we heard a roar of a jet engine, as if it was taking off in flight and we couldn't help but look into the sky to see exactly what it was and yes, it was a plane, just prior to striking the building and the engines were revved up fully.  From that you saw it actually piercing the wall of the building with a large amount of fire coming from it."

"As we started heading down the West Side Highway, we saw the second plane, we saw both towers on fire.  There was nobody on the West Side Highway after the second plane, just us and the police following each other down.  We went straight through all the way down."

"Somebody told me a plane crashed into the  World Trade Center, so I thought it was a small engine plane.  When I get to the parking lot and saw the first tower  burning. Then while I was standing in the  parking lot, that's when I saw the plane crash into the second tower.  So my partner and Victor Camile, we got our equipment together, got the bus checked out and we were assigned to 333 Rector Street for an asthmatic. That's how we ended up going into Manhattan."

"We both hear this rumble, and I felt a vibration, we looked slightly to the left, all of us, there's a whole bunch of us right next to my vehicle, and here comes this plane, a huge plane. The lady next to me says Oh my God, it's gonna hit the building. I didn't want to give her false information so I said Gee, I don't think so, well I hope not. I mean we're looking at it sort of in three dimensions, so I'm thinking it's gonna go behind the building. From where we're standing, it's gonna go right behind it, but it was too big and far too low. At that moment I said it's gonna hit, it's actually gonna hit. And it hit."

"We were lined up on West Street, west side, right by the pedestrian bridge, between six and one, over here somewhere. I don't remember the supervisor's name, but they had us line up, put our stretchers and equipment on it. We were just waiting for further instruction.
As we were waiting there, counting the people jumping, that's when we saw the scope of it. We counted 39 people. It was sad. That's when it stopped being exciting and reality kicked in and we were hanging out.
The second plane came in. It was the biggest noise I ever heard in my life.
Q. Did you see the plane?
A. Yeah. We saw it, we heard it, we felt the heat from it, the debris. We ducked under a truck..."

"Right before the tolls on the Brooklyn side heading towards Manhattan at the Battery Tunnel, we were sitting in traffic and we watched United Flight 175 hit tower two, which was the south tower of the World Trade Center.
At that time everybody was just in shock. The firefighters and I were just really trying to get through the traffic when the plane hit, and we were just standing there in like awe of what was happening."

"Then as I made it through traffic and I was going over the BQE extension to get back on to the Battery Tunnel, I looked and I saw the second plane hit the building.  I then made a round, I made my way into a line of fire trucks using my identification and went into the Battery Tunnel."

"Then as I'm communicating I catch from my peripheral vision on the right--I didn't even think about it hitting the building.  I'm  just basically like what the hell is he doing there. Before I knew it, he disappeared behind the building, and bingo, there was an explosion."

"When the second plane hit, I was still in Brooklyn.  I was trying to get through the tunnel on Hamilton Avenue.  We saw the plane, but I never saw it hit.  I remember saying to myself, boy, that guy is awful low in the pattern.  I remember saying something really stupid like, you know, did he come down to see what happened with the first one?  It never dawned on me that he was heading for the other tower, but that's where it was headed."

It is my recollection that we drove northern boulevard to the 59 street bridge. At the beginning of the 59 Street bridge, the second airliner hit and we witnessed it.

"We started heading down there towards Manhattan.  We were at the Bruckner Interchange when I saw the second plane hit the second tower."

"I would say right around that time while we were right under here, under the westside highway and pedestrian bridge, I seen second plane coming. I'm thinking isn't that plane too low? I'm like . . . then I noticed, I seen it turn. It turned and went right in the building. But we're behind, like this is the building, it went in, and you see the explosion in the front . . .
Q:  On the other side than you?
A:  Yeah we see . . . and said oh my god, I just sat there with my mouth open like Oh My God, Oh My God."

Q. The second plane?
A. I saw it coming in, I heard it, and bang, it hit.

"After the first plane hit, we were here, actually. We could see the towers actually from here. So after the first plane hit, we saw it on the news. So we came up here to look out the window, and we saw it. We watched the second plane hit. Just as the second plane hit, that's when we received the alarm."

"No sooner than, I don't know, it seemed like a few minutes -- and I have to just share with you at this point, my times might be off.  At the corner of my eye, the second plane now comes into the building."

"About when we got to chambers street by the college, we saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I told my partner slow down and wait to see if the building was going to collapse right away, because you could see it swaying."

"At approx. 0850 we arrived at the scene and positioned RMP on south bound West in front of the World Financial Center, adjacent to VIP drive. The undersigned approached Capt. Whittaker at our location and advised him of our presence. The above officers along with the undersignedd began administering first aid to numerous victims suffering from various degrees of injury. During this time NYPD, NYFD, and EMS units began arriving and staging in the area of West St. While assisting a female burn victim, I observed PO Rivero look up towards the WTC tower #2. At this time the undersigned heard the sound of jet engines and observed an aircraft with a blue color tail fly directly into the south face of WTC Tower # 2. Following the impact an enormous explosion occurred causing debris to begin to fall down all around the WTC complex."

"There was a second plane circling the building and I kept saying why is he so near the building? Within minutes, before even talking about it, he just like slammed into the second building."

"So as I'm sitting there talking to Claude trying to figure out where he was responding and what was  going on, we happened to look back at the Trade and we saw the second plane hit, bam."

"On the way to the Battery Tunnel, we're driving along Columbia Street and I'm sitting across from the proby, and as we're talking and I'm preparing him for the events, what to expect at this job we're going to go to, he just says to me, "Look at this dummy.  He's flying underneath the smoke instead of over it." With that I turned to my right and looked at the Twin Towers and I saw the second jet hit.  So he started screaming and I just said to him, "We're in big trouble.  This is an attack.  We're being attacked."

"At that time, I started walking towards Engine 3. Engine 3 drove south to the south pedestrian bridge to make a U turn to come back and as I'm walking towards the Engine to find out what Lieutenant Walsh wanted us to do, I heard the sound of a jet plane. I looked up and saw it pretty close and I was like holy shit.  What's going on with the with the flight patterns.  All of a sudden, the wings turned and it dove right into the building and it was screwed up.
At that time Chief Ganci was behind me and he thought there was another explosion in the north tower and that's when I turned around and said Chief, listen, there is a second plane that hit the other tower. He was like no no no no, we have another explosion. I said no, Chief, I witnessed it. I watched the plane hit the other tower. He is like are you sure. I said Chief, I'm 100 hundred percent positive I watched the second plane hit the other tower."

"We decided to set up a command post on the outside in the side street on the west side of West Street over by the financial building.  As we were out there trying to notify units, we had radioed to position, we heard the second plane come in and observed it hit the second building, south tower."

"We just got relieved after 0900, fireman Escofrery and  myself. We saw the plane coming over, sort of over quarters and then the initial crash we heard the initial crash."

"Anyway, it's then that I was looking at the north tower that I saw what I thought looked like a seagull in the distance almost and it went into the south tower and the south tower exploded in a huge fire ball."

"As I was going back to my area which is a few blocks from the world trade center, I was talking with my  partner, Hank Ramos, and saw in front of me while we were about—I would say around Pearl Street—we had a view of the World Trade Center which was only a few blocks away. And I stopped him and said to look at that plane, that it was flying extremely low, and that it looked like it was about to hit. A few seconds later, it did hit."

"As I was on my way back  to battalion 50 from BHS, I saw the second plane hit the towers from the BQE. I came back to battalion 50 and got in the command car with Lisa Desena, one of the division ALS coordinators, and paramedic Chris Lefkaditis, and we responded in."

"I would say probably about maybe half hour or so later, all of sudden we heard a roar and I looked at lieutenant Nevins and he looked at me and we looked up and the next thing we knew, there was another plane, and it crashed into the other tower."

"So I went to the window on the seventh floor, and I observed the Trade Center on fire. I stood there for a while, and there was a lot of people at the window, firefighters, civilians, chiefs. The next thing you know, we saw another plane hit the building. A ball of flame came out, and actually the concussion shook our building. We felt the concussion from it."

"We saw when we first started to go over the Brooklyn Bridge, the building smoking, tower one smoking, heavy black smoke coming out. Just as we came out of the bridge, we could see again the towers also with the plane come and slam into tower two."

Shortly after that, the second plane came.  I hear a big rush, like a low flying jet and I see a massive explosion. I hear a big rush, like a low flying jet and I see a massive explosion.

"I’m looking from the 59th street bridge, you can see the towers, you can see the smoke.  The buildings just look like a cigarette basically.  When we get the call to go over the bridge (I’m not too sure about the time) when we’re on the bridge there’s plenty of traffic.  That’s when we noticed the second plane hitting tower two.  I just couldn’t believe that that happened.

I was watching for a few minutes, and the second plane came in.  Basically the next thing I remember after that was we had all of our office's medical equipment on a chair and we were running out the building.

"I went back upstairs because I wanted to get something out of my bag. Maybe about 10 to 12-minutes after that first plane, I heard another plane. Then I said to myself, we're being attacked. I ran downstairs. No sooner did I run downstairs and look up, that I saw the second plane strike the south tower. It was such a vicious hit and such a precision hit, it was unbelievable."

"After that I ran up to the roof on the third floor with me and Eric Bernsten. We were watching it. We could see it from here. We have an unobstructed view. The other guys came up too. All six of us were on the roof...
Then we saw the second one come up. It looked like it was coming up the East River from here. I guess it was coming from the south. I thought it banked over the East River, which is what it looked like. I thought it made a left over the East River and went right into it going from east to west. But as it turns out, it came from the south. Then we saw it just go right into the building and explode.
I remember talking to Eric. I remember Eric saying something, "Oh, my God, there's another plane." I was saying to him, "That plane is closer to us. It's really not a big plane going towards the building." Two seconds later it rammed into the building. You don't expect it. We just freaked."

"Yes, yes, the second plane hit.  We saw the second plane hit--if you want me to go back  to when the second plane hit.  I was told by Chief Ingram, who was a terrorist and hazmat-type guy, that we've got to be careful of secondary explosions or secondary devices. Who knew that the secondary device would be another plane? People actually saw the plane.  You heard it, the closer it got.  It just got louder and louder.  I say that he throttled up as fast as he could. That's what it sounded like, but I  think he became more in earshot of us. And he just came in and put the plane into the building."

"As we watched the fire from the third floor, we saw the second plane fly right into the center of the building clear as day."

"At some point after our arrival and after we had moved to the west side of West Street, I heard a loud roar of a jet, looked up and saw the second plane impact the south tower. At that point it was clear to me it was a terrorist attack. Earlier I didn't know what it was. I assumed it was an accident."

"We all got out of the rig, and we were standing there. We watched another plane come in. I felt the plane was coming underneath the pillar of smoke that was coming out of the first tower, but obviously it veered into the tower, and it took another hit"

"Just then out of the corner of my eye, I could see this plane. I just remember the dark. It was in the shadow. It looked low. I thought, "What the heck is the guy doing?" I watched it, watched him turn and crash right into the south tower. Right away I knew it was terrorism or terrorists. I didn't know what the first one was, but I knew what the second one was."

"I saw Battalion 2 in the lobby of the north tower.  After that I stayed there a few more minutes, and then I went out to my company. We were stretching hose.  I saw the second plane hit the south tower."

"I remember our normal routine in the morning, go get our breakfast, and we go sit and we cover Red Hook, so we had the view of the city. We were sitting there, and we were looking at the city. All of is sudden my partner says to me, "Frankie, that plane seems to be low." ...and she yells out, "Frank that plane just hit the building."......We can't believe what's going on, and she says -- and I remember my partner, Mala, saying again to me, "That other plane is low." I don't know how much time, 10, 15 minutes, and we seen the other plane hit."

"...I watched eventually the second plane, I saw it. It looked like it was circling around south, then came back north, striking the south side of Tower No. 2."

"We attempted to get our stuff out of the vehicle and as we looked up we saw a plane hit the second building and we noticed that there was large ball of flame coming from the second building it was at this point that commissioner Gregory directed EMT Harris to move the vehicle because there was debris fire basically covering us on Vesey Street."

 "We arrived and parked our truck in front of #2 WTC. P.O. HALL and P.O. Niedermeyer and myself encountered several people that had been burned and a gentleman who stated he had two women who were burned badly. We took the two women and proceeded to stop an ambulance that was coming down West St. and put them in it. At this time I heard a loud roar as I looked up I saw a plane coming from the south I yelled 'Al look at this shit ' the plane smashed into W.T.C. #2."

"While we were still in the middle of the street, another plane comes in, makes a big circle, comes around from like the Statue of Liberty direction, and hits two.  We can't believe that another one is coming in.  Joey got on the radio, "Another plane just hit the second tower."  I don't know if he said mayday or what, but he yelled "Another plane hit the second tower."

"We got in the truck, listening to reports coming in on Citywide and we ended up taking the Battery Park Tunnel underneath to come up on the West Street side of the incident. We came up right out of the tunnel. I was looking up to see if I could do a little more initial size up. That is when I saw the second plane hit the building. I just watched it coming in.
I see that the plane hit and I'm really thinking for the safety of the members that we got operating already ..."

"Okay. We responded from quarters. The ticket came in at 
8:54. We were going on the first alarm to the staging area by the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. En route to the staging area, we were going down Columbia Street, saw the second plane strike the building and we went from being a, quote, good job or a rough job, or we were going to earn our money today."

I remember the lieutenant turned to Scott and I and said, "You know, this could be a terrorist thing.  Maybe it was a bomb or something."  I can't remember his exact words. Shortly thereafter Scott said, "What's wrong with the flight patterns around here?"  I said, "What are you talking about?"  And the south tower blew up.  Scott said, "That was a plane."  I said, "Scott, it was not a plane. It was probably another bomb."  He said, "No, I saw  it. It was a plane."

"The next thing I heard was a loud like an engine roar.  I looked up, and the next thing I knew I just saw -- I don't know if it was the tail end of the plane or what, but I saw something.  When I looked up, I heard "boom." I'm sorry, the north tower was the first one. The south tower then got hit when we were right there."

 "I was putting on my pants and boots when I heard something similar to the sound of a jet aircraft taking off, and when I looked up I saw the impact of the second plane hitting the south tower and immediately an enormous fireball erupted that actually masked the entire upper half of the building and part of the north tower."

"So from there we went down to the quarters of Marine 9, and we were watching across the bay. We could see the fire in the North Tower, when the next plane that was going to hit the South Tower flew over our heads".

" As I was coming up West Street, I started hearing sounds getting very loud, and I never bothered to look back because the sound got extremely loud. It was the roar of the jet plane, which I didn't really know. It was the airliner coming in. I remember running back up West Street towards where my chauffeur was from the high-rise rig, and running at the same time I was trying to get down at the same time it seemed like.
Then I heard the explosion, continued running up to Scott, and I said what was that? I was under the impression that maybe it was a fighter plane because it got so loud. He said, no, another airliner just hit the south tower. I turned and looked and I could see all the damage already."

"That was one part that remember after that, that's when we started seeing people starting to jump out. It was total—that was unreal, I tell you, to see people jump from the top floor. A few minutes later, we had seen the second plane just come in, go right through the second building."

"Upon that time I heard a plane roar. I had my window down and on my side we saw a plane flying very low come right across us and with a loud, you know, the engines revved up, and I had mentioned to him, I had no idea that it was heading towards that way, and I just said like where is this guy going, you know, he was extremely low, not realizing it was another plane heading towards the World Trade, and we saw it struck the building, we saw a big mushroom of flame, of fire coming up, and it was like disbelief, and he had gotten on the radio and notified the dispatcher another plane had struck the World Trade Center."

"I remember I was right by the TV set and I said, "That must have been a drunk pilot." I mean, it was clear outside. So we were like, "Wow, the guy must have had a few last night or something." So then Roger Jackson and myself went out to the front to see the smoke. If you were in front of the firehouse and you looked over to the right, you saw the smoke. Then he called and he goes, "Zech." That's my nickname. He goes, "Zech, look." and we saw the other plane going from left to right with its nose down. So then we ran back in the kitchen, and then maybe 30 seconds later the news said that a bomb went off in the second building. But then they saw in slow motion it was a plane."

"Which eyewitness? Name one."

"As we were taken up from the box, we were backing out of 19th Street, and we heard a plane go over our heads. So me and the backup man, Jimmy Andruzzi, looked at each other. We realized it was low."

"We were on the 59th Street bridge when out of the corner of our eye we saw the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Looking south from the 59th Street bridge, we noticed the smoke."

"At approximately 0845, I, Officers Patrick McNerney and Jose Sanchez, were on routine patrol at the comer of 42nd street and 8th Avenue. As I was looking east on 42nd Street, I observed a commercial passenger jet flying over at an extremely low altitude, and heading south. I lost sight of the aircraft for few seconds when it flew behind some buildings. I immediately realized that an aircraft of that size would never be given clearance to fly that low over a populated area. My first thought was that the aircraft was in distress. I thought that the pilot was attempting to make an emergency landing in the harbor off lower Manhattan. From the comer on 42nd Street, where we were standing, looking east there is an unobstructed view of the top of the Empire State Building. We again spotted the aircraft for few seconds. It was just east of the Empire State Building and, to my best estimation, no higher than 500’ above it.
During this time, I looked for signs of distress. I was trying to observe the plane, as closely as I could for smoke, fire, or any type of vapor trail. There was none. The landing gear was up and the doors that house the gear closed. The plane, was, as I stated, traveling south and was moving at a high rate of speed. It was flying level and straight. The pilot did not appear to be fighting to maintain control of the aircraft.
Officers Mcnemey Sanchez and I began to comment on the plane. I said that if the plane was to crash I hoped the aircraft would make it to the harbor and not hit the Trade Center or The City. Several moments passed, we were listening for the sound of a crash and heard nothing. At approximately 0855, Sergeant Peter Schillizzi the Desk Sergeant, broadcast a message over the radio for me, the Patrol Sergeant, Tour Commander and all Officers to return immediately to the Police Desk. At this time, I stated to Officer McNemey “ That plane hit the Trade Center!” and started back to Quarters.
Moments later when I arrived at the Police Desk, Sgt. Schillizzi informed me that an aircraft did hit the Trade Center."

"Now we all heard a plane that sounded like it was in trouble. So everyone stopped what they were doing. It was obvious there was something wrong with the motors. They were like straining, and they were louder than normal. Normally over Manhattan a plane flies very high. We all looked in the sky and didn't see anything, but then for six or seven seconds flying out of the northeast, headed southwest, was this jetliner, like the kind of thing you would go on to go to Miami Beach or Vegas or something like that. It was flying very low, probably about 350 feet. As it passed over us, it wobbled, just a little bit. Then after six or seven seconds of seeing it -- we lost sight of it, because there were six-story tenements around us so that patch of sky that we saw it for just lasted that small amount of time.... "

"I remember our normal routine in the morning, go get our breakfast, and we go sit and we cover Red Hook, so we had the view of the city.  We were sitting there, and we were looking at the city. All of a sudden my partner says to me, 'Frankie, that plane seems to be low.'"
Q.  "What unit were you working that day?"
A.  "We were working 32 boy in Red Hook. We had the view of the city, and she yells out, 'Frank, that plane just hit the building.'"
Q.   "Who is she?"
A.   "My partner is Mala, Mala Harilal, and I look up, and I can't believe what I'm seeing.  I get on the radio, and I said, '32 boy, if you need us, we're available.  We can go right through the tunnel.'  As soon as I seen this, I got on the phone, and I dialed the number to call my wife to let her know what's going on.  We were standing there in awe.  We can't believe what's going on, and she says -- and I remember my partner, Mala, saying again to me, 'That other plane is low.'  I don't know how much time, 10, 15 minutes, and we seen the other plane hit."

"I was working the night before in the 1st Battalion, and sometime about 8:15 or so in the morning we got a call to Lispenard and Church for a gas leak in the street. We were there for a while checking on the gas leak, and then we heard the loud roar of the plane come over, and we turned around and we looked and we saw the plane coming down, heading south towards the Trade Center, and made a direct hit on the Trade Center."

"At this point in the event, I heard a plane passing overhead extremely low [When at WTC] I really could not see any indication at that time that a plane had hit it, but certainly it appeared some catastrophic event had occurred."

"We were returning back there from Battalion 4 and we were going up, I believe it's Pearl Street, and my partner Alex Loutsky and I, we witnessed the first plane hit the first tower. Saw it flying low and we thought, that plane's flying kind of low, and then it hit the building and we went over the radio and we told central that we had witnessed a plane hitting the building, and at first she didn't believe us, but then other units started saying they saw the same thing and then we proceeded straight over to the Trade Center."

"We had found out what grate the leak was coming from and our Chief Pfiefer was bent over with the gas meter. We heard the plane, we looked up was low enough that it rattled the buildings we were standing at. We saw it come out from behind the buildings and hit tower one and like I said, a fireball, looked like 10 or 20 stories big, shot out the south side of the tower and then out the hole that the plane made going in."

"Well, here's how my morning starts. I usually come in around 8:00 like everyone does, but I went to vote, so I was late. I was coming up Allen, which turns into First. When I was crossing Delancey Street, I saw a jet in front of me, which was the first jet. He was pretty low. He was probably about 30 stories. Now I'm heading north and crossing Delancey Street on Allen and I see the jet make a move toward the Trade Center. It made a south-westerly turn from that point.

I proceeded up First Avenue, left on 14th, parked in front of the firehouse. Fireman Lynn was there. He said they were out on a box, they wouldn't let him on because they thought they had a good job, and right then he told me a plane just crashed into the Trade Center. It was the same exact plane I just saw."

"We were at a box for odor of gas in the street on Church and Lispenard. We were investigating that. We were just about ready to take up from that box and come back when we heard the roar of the engines of the plane. Before we knew it, it was overhead. Within two seconds it hit the north tower."

"On the morning of September 11th we were operating a box up on Church Street Near Canal. There was an odor of gas in the area. While we were out operating, we heard the first plane coming in. I turned around and I watched the plane crash into the north tower."

"We received a run about 8:30 in the morning for a gas leak up at Lispenard Street and Church. We were operating at that box along with Engine 7, Battalion 1 and Ladder Company 8. I believe 55 Engine was there also, maybe Engine 24. I'm not [sure]. After about 15 minutes, we conclude our operations there. Lispenard is about one block south of Canal Street. I believe the chief gave the code for a gas leak, 10-40, code 1. All the units were about to go 10-8 when we heard this loud roar. Everybody thought -- or at least to me it sounded as though there was going to be a Con Edison steam explosion. This was about a quarter to 9, I'd say. So everybody looked up to where they thought they heard the sound coming from, and we saw an American Airlines plane. To me it looked as though it was going treetop level right down West Street. Then he appeared to rise a little bit. We were under the impression -- he looked like he was going down, but we didn't hear any mechanical difficulty. We couldn't figure out why an American Airlines plane would be so low in downtown Manhattan. We sort of expected him to veer off and go into the Hudson. But he just rose a little bit, his altitude, leveled off, and he was headed straight for the Trade Center. So just before he got to the Trade Center, it seemed as though he gained power. We were just watching this airplane on target for the World Trade Center. All of a sudden, boom, he disappears into the Trade Center. You hear this sickening noise as if two pieces of fiberglass had hit. You hear this loud explosion. He just disappeared into the Trade Center."

"We got a box on Church and Leonard of an odor of gas. So Engine 7 and Ladder 1, Battalion 1, responds. It turned out to be a false alarm. As we were at the box, a plane passes us overhead real low. You could hear it; you could feel it. We turned around, and it just impacted the building, building one. With that, everybody got on the rig. We started driving."

"I was relieved, and a few of us were standing in front of quarters when we noticed a plane came directly over the firehouse maybe around 8:45, somewhere around that time. One of the guys mentioned that the plane looked like it was really low. Before we could really think of what he said, the next thing we heard an explosion. We saw the smoke."

M.D. MICHAEL GUTTENBERG (Office of Medical Affairs)
The other thing that was actually evident, though, is what appeared to be some plane parts, like some circular pieces of a plane, and lots of shoes. I don't know if that was women jumping out of their--jumping out of their heels to run, but there were -- just impressed me there were no -- you know, there were no injuries on the street at that point, but there was lots of shoes all over the place and plane parts.

I was going down south on Church Street, against traffic on Church Street and I pulled up right behind St. Paul's Cemetery. . . Like when we went to the one, we went down the West Side Highway, we pulled up over here.  As we pulled out here, there was so much debris, the Lieutenant said, "Just park it over here."  So, you know, this cemetery, there was papers flying all over the place, there were engines all over, plane parts, building parts, and then we proceeded to walk down Vesey Street into the north tower.

Everybody was wearing their helmet, which was good because there was debris, like just different types of parts. It might have been plane parts, in fact, they did look like it, on the floor with stuff coming down as well. . . . At the time of the impact, we were able to feel heat that was generated from the explosion at this command post, which was across West Street, and West is fairly large street with that island in there, and debris was showering all over West Street.

We were actually still on Church Street. We heard the plane briefly, the earth shook, the buildings shook, a tremendous fireball overhead. I thought there was a bomb or an explosion. A tremendous fireball, flaming debris, pieces of the airplane, fuselage, landing gear, pieces of the building.

As we pulled close to the Trade Center, the tower, we saw airplane parts.  We saw bodies.  We saw body parts.  What we did then was we decided to move a little bit further west on West Street to the furthermost point that we could.

Upon arrival, towers one and two were both ablaze.  The second plane had hit the second tower already.  Both towers were totally engulfed.  People were jumping out of the buildings.  There was airplane fuselage and landing gear around the site.  Body parts, victims' remains on the floor.  There were some injuries on the street.  Some cars were on fire.

Q. When you went into Manhattan, you said you went through the tunnel. You went through the Battery Tunnel?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you remember how you came up?
A. We made a right-hand turn, and all you saw was airplane parts and body parts in the street.

I looked up and saw body parts, feet, a hand with a ring on it, a face with a mustache and eyes and part of an ear. Just a face, no head, just a face. I saw like the window of an airplane, one of those small plastic windows.

So they kind of had everything blocked off and we kind of swerved around debris from the plane, body parts pretty much everywhere. That's the first time I've ever seen anything like that. I'm sure no one did.

As we exited the Battery Tunnel to lower Manhattan, we proceeded to make a right turn onto West Street where we were confronted with a lot of debris in the street, airplane debris, human remains and such.

Up on the top floor, it was a pool, spa, gym equipment, saunas.  It was just a workout area and a spa area with a couple of office spaces.  We did see part of -- I didn't see it, but Jeff Johnson told me later on he did see part of the landing gear actually fell right through the roof and it was in one of the Jacuzzis in another room.

After that, FBI agent came down the block. He identified some landing gear that was in front of our rig, asked me to make sure no pedestrians came down the block to interfere with any type of metals and debris that were there, because they were trying to identify to put the pieces back together for the plane.

We carried all our tools, the bottles, everything, and as we're walking down, part of the plane engine was sitting right in the street, still burning. I said, look, this is the plane.

Like I remember walking by with the chief, and I remember seeing the airplane engine, you know, pieces of, you know, obviously trade center all over.

We basically saw a lot of body parts and plane wreckage that was just all over the street.

It's interesting because, as we were there, there was a police car, I guess, on Vesey, on the corner there, and some debris comes down from whatever this explosion was, at the time we really didn't know, and it just crushes it, I mean, crushes the top front of the police car, which really scared me at that point.
Q. Could you tell if it was airplane parts?
A. It looked like an airplane part afterward, yes, it did. It looked like part of an engine. It was pretty big. It was probably the size of the hood because it kind of hit it, bounced, and then rolled off....Another thing I've got to tell you is, when we first got there, when we were walking down Vesey towards West, there was a ton of -- or I could say a lot of body parts and like baggage, clothes and stuff, along Vesey.
Q. From one of the airplanes.?
A. Yes, from one of the airplanes. I don't know if it was the first or the second because this was after the second one had hit. So it could have been from either one. But I remember walking –
Q. Where was it, though? On Vesey?
A. Right in front of the OEM, because on the OEM building side there was a scaffolding and I remember I was walking underneath there. We kind of felt that there was some protection underneath the scaffolding. I remember as we were walking down, after we had dropped that person off, when we were walking down Vesey, I remember probably between -- what's this?
Q. Church?
A. No. Probably between Broadway and West, I remember seeing body parts.
Q. That's West Broadway?
A. Yes, West Broadway and West on Vesey. I remember seeing body parts and I remember saying to myself where the hell did these freaking body parts come from? Where are these coming from? There was a few. I mean, some recognizable, some that didn't look -- like they were probably charred, and also like luggage stuff, like we saw a lot of shoes, even some luggage, airplane parts, engine. There was an engine on the left here. If you remember, building 7, there used to be that overpass over by building 7. Just in front of it.
Q. The concourse.
A. Just up before that, there was like a little plaza?
Q. Right.
A. Right there, there was like a big engine part. It seemed like a whole engine was right there, lying right there in the middle of the street.
Q. Covered like the way the jet looks?
A. Yes. In fact, you could see the fan. I remember that because I could see -- now, it wasn't the whole engine because the engine is big, but I know the front part of it, it looked like the whole engine because I could see the fan, and that's what stood out in my mind. There was an airplane tire also there and then these bodies and luggage from the thing because there were shoes everywhere also. Some shoes had what looked like blood in it, other shoes didn't, other shoes were burnt, and this was just a first impression.

We walked up West Street northbound to get to the command post, and there I remember looking to my right and seeing an aircraft landing gear tire.

You could see airplane parts just littered across the street , across the highway.

 The first indication that I had that it was a plane crash, I remember--because I'm color blind so it's hard for me to distinguish different colors, especially when everything is gray, because it had--really had kind of a gray look to it, because of all the dust, you know, but there was like a bank or something here, and there's like a fountain, I guess, right in front of the bank. . . .I'm trying to remember everything in that 20 seconds I'm going past it, but I remember there was lifejackets everywhere, the yellow in-flight lifejackets, and that the contrast of the yellow against all the gray, you know. It stood out. It was easy for me to pick it out, and I remember thinking as I saw that, you know, I guess it must have been a plane crash, because where the hell else would you get a bunch of yellow lifejackets in the middle of Manhattan, you know?

I noticed police officers with First Deputy Commissioner Joseph Dunne of the NYPD in the intersection of Vesey and Church. You could see airplane parts on the ground and although I didn't realize it at the time, I later realized there were body parts, both on the concourse and on the street... I now made a left on Vesey and walked down the street on the 7 World Trade Center side, where I could see more airplane debris... http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110098.PDF

Q. Did you witness the second plane hitting? 
A. I heard it but I didn't look up. The noise from the plane was enough to make you not want to look up. I thought the plane was actually going to land in the street to be honest with you. The noise was outrageous. When it hit the building it was even worse... Various parts of the plane were falling on the street. As we went down the street you could see parts of aircraft with stencil numbers on it and things like that. There was a wheel, or like a wheel housing or something else there in the street. 

...I was walking up West, and I noticed first block we passed I noticed in the street at the end of where the Jersey barriers are, that split up the road before you go into the tunnel -- I guess it would be Carlisle -- I saw the first body or parts of a body, upper torso, no head, no arms or legs. I saw another one across the street. 
Q. These are from the people that were jumping out of the building? 
A. No, I don't believe so. I believe it was from the airplane, people in the building and the airplane coming through and it blew these people out into the street, because you couldn't have jumped that far. It's impossible. 

I passed over some pieces of what appeared to be aircraft wreckage, fuselage, whatever, some body parts and bodies in various states, either people from the building or the airplanes. You couldn't tell. They weren't intact. 

Captain Nahmod and I were running down Vesey Street stepping over airplane pieces, several bodies and whatnot... There was what looked like the front wheel assembly of an airplane. Unknown the size of the plane that had hit, it just looked like it was one pair of wheels on an assembly, pieces of metal with rivets in them, a few body parts scattered around. 

"I noticed in the courtyard that there were valises, suitcases, strewn about the courtyard.  There were wallets everywhere, broken glass, and then I noticed that there were airplane tickets. I  started  to get  a picture of  the size of  the airplane that had hit the building. Up until then, we thought it was maybe a small two-seater plane, and now we were starting to get the idea that it was maybe larger or a commercial airliner."

"Debris was falling down but not at any great point. By the time I started to pass by in front of 10 and 10. As I got down a little farther, there was what looked to be a piece of the cabin of the airplane, I guess. It looked like a piece of it about maybe six foot long. It looked like the windows."
Q. "This is on Liberty?"
A. "This is on Liberty and just west of 10 and 10, whatever that next building is there. Now that I think back, I guess it could have been -- I don't know if it was the windows. It actually looked like the rounded cutout of the windows of the cabin of a plane."

See more eyewitness accounts here:

9/11 and the Pentagon Attack: What Witnesses Described

"The major concern at that time at that particular location was number Seven, building number seven, which had taken a big hit from the north tower. ... We were concerned that the fires on several floors and the missing steel would result in the building collapsing. So for the next five or six hours we kept firefighters from working anywhere near that building, which included the whole north side of the World Trade Center complex. Eventually around 5:00 or a little after, building number seven came down." http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110217.PDF

"The biggest decision we had to make on the first day was to clear the area and create a collapse zone around the severely damaged 7 World Trade Center, a 47-story building heavily involved in fire. A number of fire officers and companies assessed the damage to the building. The appraisals indicated that the building's integrity was in serious doubt. I issued the orders to pull back the firefighters and define the collapse zone. It was a critical decision; we could not lose any more firefighters. It took a lot of time to pull everyone out, given the emotionalism of the day, communications difficulties, and the collapse terrain."

DANIEL NIGRO (in another account): "I ordered the evacuation of an area sufficient around to protect our members, so we had to give up some rescue operations that were going on at the time and back the people away far enough so that if 7 World Trade did collapse, we wouldn't lose any more people. We continued to operate on what we could from that distance and approximately an hour and a half after that order was given, at 5:30 in the afternoon, 7 World Trade Center collapsed completely."
"Early on, there was concern that 7 World Trade Center might have been both impacted by the collapsing tower and had several fires in it and there was a concern that it might collapse. So we instructed that a collapse area ... be set up and maintained so that when the expected collapse of 7 happened, we wouldn't have people working in it."

FRANK CRUTHERS (in another account): "Of primary importance early on in the operation was the structural condition of 7 World Trade Center. Assistant Chief Frank Fellini had been approached by several chiefs who were concerned about its stability. It had been heavily damaged in the collapse and was well-involved in fire. Chief Fellini had looked at it and described to us some damage to its south side; he felt that structural components of the building had been comprised. So when Chief Dan Nigro arrived at the command post, he convened a meeting of staff chiefs, and this was a major subject of the meeting. We were all in accord about the danger of 7 WTC, and we all agreed that it was not too conservative of a decision to establish a collapse zone for that building, move the firefighters out of the collapse area, and maintain that strategy."

"There was a big discussion going on at that point about pulling all of our units out of 7 World Trade Center. Chief Nigro didn't feel it was worth taking the slightest chance of somebody else getting injured. So at that point we made a decision to take all of our units out of 7 World Trade Center because there was a potential for collapse. ... Made the decision to back everybody away, took all the units and moved them all the way back toward North End Avenue, which is as far I guess west as you could get on Vesey Street, to keep them out of the way."

"We were pretty sure that 7 World Trade Center would collapse. Early on, we saw a bulge in the southwest corner between floors 10 and 13, and we had put a transit on that and we were pretty sure she was going to collapse. You actually could see there was a visible bulge, it ran up about three floors. It came down about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, but by about 2 o'clock in the afternoon we realized this thing was going to collapse."
"So we left 7 World Trade Center. . . and Captain Varriale told Chief Coloe and myself that 7 World Trade Center was badly damaged on the south side and definitely in danger of collapse. Chief Coloe said we were going to evacuate the collapse zone around 7 World Trade Center, which we did."

"So we go there and on the north and east side of 7 it didn’t look like there was any damage at all, but then you looked on the south side of 7 there had to be a hole 20 stories tall in the building, with fire on several floors. Debris was falling down on the building and it didn’t look good. But they had a hoseline operating. Like I said, it was hitting the sidewalk across the street, but eventually they pulled back too. Then we received an order from Fellini, we’re going to make a move on 7. That was the first time really my stomach tightened up because the building didn’t look good. I was figuring probably the standpipe systems were shot. There was no hydrant pressure. I wasn’t really keen on the idea. Then this other officer I’m standing next to said, that building doesn’t look straight. So I’m standing there. I’m looking at the building. It didn’t look right, but, well, we’ll go in, we’ll see.

So we gathered up rollups and most of us had masks at that time. We headed toward 7. And just around we were about a hundred yards away and Butch Brandies came running up. He said forget it, nobody’s going into 7, there’s creaking, there are noises coming out of there, so we just stopped. And probably about 10 minutes after that, Visconti, he was on West Street, and I guess he had another report of further damage either in some basements and things like that, so Visconti said nobody goes into 7, so that was the final thing and that was abandoned."

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