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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid