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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs