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September 11, 2001

Covering the Attack

An Eyewitness Speaks

By Ed Hashey
Special to Poynter.org

[Editor's note: Ed Hashey is a member of Poynter's visiting visual journalism faculty and an affiliate of Mario Garcia New Media Group.]

I keep playing this back in my head. It just did not seem real, nor would I ever have imagined such a series of events happening this morning. It is true: Everything seemed to be in slow motion.

I arrived here Sunday night with my wife. She was going to spend the whole week with me for my birthday. I reported to work yesterday as a consultant at The Wall Street Journal.

Monday we just came up with the work load for the next few weeks. I came back to the hotel at midtown Manhattan, had dinner with my wife, Jeanne, where we discussed our day's events and plans for tomorrow.

Jeanne said she want to come in with me to the downtown area on Tuesday morning and visit the top of the World Trade Center. She found a two-dollar discount coupon. The next morning we both ate breakfast and my wife decided she was not feeling well enough to join me this morning.

So I left for work this morning at 8 a.m. I got on the number 9 train from Times Square, and read a chapter in my book. Before you knew it, it was 8:40 a.m. and I was at the World Trade Center station at Cortland Street.

I got off the train, walked up to the street exit, and right as I saw daylight, I heard a huge explosion and then many pieces of metal debris, some the size of car hoods, were falling all around me and a very large crowd of people.

We all responded by trying to go back in the train station exit, but there were too many people trying to exit, and so we all squeezed against the side of the World Trade Center. After a while, the debris stopped falling. We crossed Liberty street, and looked up and saw the first tower engulfed in flames. Eyewitnesses said a plane had crashed into the building high up.

Then to my horror, I started seeing people jump to their deaths. As each person fell, I started praying. Many people fell, and we were not sure where to go or what to do. Then a loud noise of an aircraft became apparent, and I remember seeing a large airline jet smash into the next tower, followed by many flaming pieces falling all around us and many people being struck by debris and burning wreckage. I ran into an entryway of the building across the street and saw debris take out windows. A large crowd of pedestrians outside was hit as they were on their way to work.

At that point the police ordered a mass evacuation, and I remember thinking this was a terrorist act. It was just too coincidental too be anything else.

I decided to just start running north up Broadway. By the time I reached Chambers Street, I kept trying phones to call my wife and say I was OK, but nothing was working, all circuits busy, my cell phone did not work.

So I just got on a train and ran to my hotel room. My wife was in tears, and I was shaking like a leaf. I as still shaking and very sad, then I witnessed the towers falling on the news channel, and I just stood there in disbelief.

I am sad, angry, nervous, happy to be alive, but humbled by others' deaths today. I can't stop seeing the visions of bodies falling. I still pray for their families, but the world will never be the same again.

I'm very sorry to be writing this.

 

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