News / USA

9/11 Survivor Recalls Escaping Collapsing Marriott Center

Annual Tribute in Light tested in New York's Lower Manhattan as a man takes a picture at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 9, 2013.
Annual Tribute in Light tested in New York's Lower Manhattan as a man takes a picture at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 9, 2013.
Washington-based lawyer Frank Razzano is one of several people who escaped from New York's World Trade Center complex after the Twin Towers collapsed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
 
He was staying in the Marriott World Trade Center, a 22-story hotel that was one of 10 buildings destroyed in the attacks in the area that became known as Ground Zero.
 
Razzano was in New York on Sunday to attend what he called an "emotional" reunion lunch for several dozen Marriott guests, employees and firefighters who made dramatic escapes from the hotel. He said the survivors and family members also got a tour of two memorials for the estimated 50 people who died at the hotel, most of them firefighters.
 
On the morning that two hijacked planes hit the Twin Towers, Razzano was sleeping in his 19th floor suite, which he had booked to prepare for a trial in New York. He says he awoke at the sound of the first impact, but returned to bed after looking out of a window and seeing some papers fluttering in the air. Minutes later, the second plane hit the South Tower, just opposite his suite.

Frank Razzano Interview Segment 1
Frank Razzano describes what happened after both planes struck the Twin Towersi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

"I turned the television on, and they were saying that two planes had hit the North Tower and the South Tower. There was a little bit of confusion at that time as to what had happened. This may sound crazy, but I wasn't really concerned. This was something that was going on 80 stories above me. I figured the fire department would come and put out the fires and that would be the end of it."
 
Razzano said his thoughts were focused on a meeting scheduled for later that morning as he took a shower, got dressed and gathered his belongings. But then the collapse of the South Tower adjacent to the hotel changed everything.
 
"I felt the building beginning to break up, as if it was being bombarded by artillery fire," he said. "I looked out the window and I could see a mountain of concrete and steel just falling past the window, almost like in slow motion, like a curtain going down at a theater. I ran to the opposite side of the room and pressed myself against the wall and thought that those were the last few minutes that I was going to have on Earth.
 
"I distinctly remember thinking to myself that my daughter had just gotten engaged, and I would never see her get married. The other thought that went through my head was, I knew I was going to die, but I was just hoping that something would hit me in the head and that I go quickly. And then all of a sudden, everything stopped."
 
Razzano said he moved through the room, opened the door, and yelled out, "Is there anyone there?"
 
"Just five feet away from me, I hear a voice, 'Come this way'. On the ground, under some debris, I find a fireman," Razzano said. "I said, 'Are you OK?' He says, 'I'm OK, don't worry about me. Just go down the stairs.'"
 
The collapse of the South Tower created a huge gash in the middle of the hotel, but left its southern stairwell intact. Razzano managed to make it down to the stairwell's third floor, where he, another guest, a hotel worker and two firemen crawled down a narrow beam through an opening in the wall to the second floor.

Remains of World Trade Center (WTC) 3 after collapse of WTC 1 and WTC 2, Sept. 11, 2001 (photo courtesy of FEMA)Remains of World Trade Center (WTC) 3 after collapse of WTC 1 and WTC 2, Sept. 11, 2001 (photo courtesy of FEMA)
x
Remains of World Trade Center (WTC) 3 after collapse of WTC 1 and WTC 2, Sept. 11, 2001 (photo courtesy of FEMA)
Remains of World Trade Center (WTC) 3 after collapse of WTC 1 and WTC 2, Sept. 11, 2001 (photo courtesy of FEMA)
Moments later the North Tower fell, demolishing almost all of what remained of the Marriott except for a few floors at the southern edge where Razzano and the other survivors were located.
 
"All I kept thinking to myself was, 'This can't be happening to me twice in one day!'" Razzano said.
 
"I thought I was going to die, because I couldn't breathe. Every breath you took, you drew in dust and dirt and you couldn't get any oxygen," he said. "And I remember convulsively coughing, as did all the other people in the group. After a few minutes of coughing and hacking, the dust started to settle down, and we were able to get some oxygen."

Frank Razzano Interview Segment 2
Frank Razzano describes the aftermath of the second tower collapsingi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Having located another hole in the building, the group used a rug to climb down to a huge debris pile on the ground. A policeman noticed Razzano was bleeding from the head and put him on a boat to Ellis Island, where he was taken by ambulance to a New Jersey hospital. After three days of treatment for bleeding in his brain cavity, the bleeding stopped and he was released from the hospital without surgery.
 
Razzano said he plans to return to New York on September 29, when his daughter and some of her friends will do a charity run in honor of Ruben Correa, one of the firefighters killed at the Marriott.
 
He said the courage of the firefighters and police who responded to the 9/11 attacks is more important than his personal story and deserves to be remembered.


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid