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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid