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9/11 Reflections

((TRT: 05:58))
((VOA Russian))
((Topic Banner: 9/11 Reflections))
((Reporter: Anna Nelson))
((Camera: Vladimir Badikov))
((Editor: Natalia Latukhina))
((Map: New York City, New York))
((Main character: 1 male))
((Sub character: 1 female))
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
I think I was kind of happier before. I was 40. It was fairly
good. I was married, a father, four children. Believe it or not,
I wanted to be a cop but that didn't work out. So,
I was a train operator for the city of New York. I was able to
make a decent living. I did my job. I wasn't really crazy about
it but it paid the bills.
My name is Joseph Irizarry. I was a train operator on the R
Line on September 11, 2001.
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
At 8:43 to 8:45 in the morning, I was at Cortlandt Street.
There was an explosion that shook my train. I didn't know
what it was. I didn't know if I got rear-ended by another train
or if, you know, a bomb went off. I told my conductor to
reopen the doors when we were at rest at a station. And I
went towards the back of the train and there was two ladies
running down the stairs and they informed me that a plane
had just hit the first tower.
I told everybody just to stay on the train, so they got back
onto the train.
There was debris coming down, dust coming down into the
station. Was inhaling that.
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
It was scary. Because at that point, nobody knew that it was
terrorism. You know, everybody just thought it was an
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
There were people running down the stairs to get on the
train. I told my conductor to keep the doors open until he
saw that everybody had gotten on the train safely.
Cortlandt Street was right across the street from the tower,
100 yards [90 m], maybe, not even.
Yeah, I was underneath when the first plane hit. I didn't panic
at that point. My whole thing was just to get everybody out of
there safely. Usually 10 seconds, 15 seconds, conductor
opens the doors. As long as everybody's clear, the doors
close down and we proceed.
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
This time, it was different.
At that point, I made sure that everybody that was running
down the stairs was able to get on the train safely. And once
everybody came down the stairs safely and we didn't see
any more people coming down the stairs, I told my conductor
to close down and we proceeded.
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
If I remember correctly, it was probably a few hundred
people on the train. I contacted my control center and
informed them and they came back and verified it.
((Courtesy: WNYE-TV))
((NATS: Emergency Dispatch))
“A plane hit the World Trade Center at Cortlandt Street here!
We have smoke in the station down here!
“The time is 8:47.”
“I’m at Cortlandt Street. I’m moving out!”
“The time is 8:47.”
“I’m moving out, but there’s smoke down here!”
((Courtesy: WNYE-TV))
((Joseph Irizarry, 2001 Archival Footage))
You know, with the smoke coming down, I figured something
was going on upstairs. And we got everybody on the train,
closed down and we proceeded.
((Courtesy ends))
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
The trains that were behind went back into Brooklyn.
It’s tough.
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
When I got to Continental Avenue, that's when I found out
exactly what had happened, you know, as far as the tower
falling. I went into the crew room and saw it on TV.
That's when I panicked, I think, knowing that I was
underneath, that's when it all hit me. I remember going
home, just breaking down and crying.
((Courtesy: New York Transit Museum))
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
I believe the station was closed down for a while because of
damage. There was a lot of destruction. They had to rebuild
the station. There was a part that did collapse. It took a long
time for them
((Courtesy ends))
((Courtesy: AP/Mark Lennihan))
to rebuild the station.
((Courtesy ends))
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
The Transit Authority, like they got in touch with me with the
lady that contacted the news.
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
The one person that I did get to meet was Linda. She was
sitting right behind my cab.
((Courtesy: WNYE-TV))
((Linda Desilvio, Train Passenger on 9/11/2001))
Actually, it took me a few days because of the shock of
everything. And then when I started getting my composure
back, because I did lose a lot of friends, then I decided I
must call and do something to say, “Thank you” to
somebody that could be, you know, slip through the cracks.
((Courtesy: WNYE-TV))
((NATS: Joseph Irizarry & Linda Desilvio, 2001 Archival
((Joseph Irizarry))
I’m glad you’re here.
((Linda Desilvio))
Good again to see you.
((Joseph Irizarry))
Thanks for finding me.
((Linda Desilvio))
The MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] did.
((Joseph Irizarry, 2001 Archival Footage))
It’s a good feeling, you know, to think somebody, you know,
considers you a hero. I still say that’s what we do every day
down here. That’s our job, to keep our customers safe.
((Courtesy ends))
((Joseph Irizarry, NYC Train Operator on 9/11/2001))
I kept just trying to put it off and deal with it. I was taking off a
lot of time sick because I did not want to be there. According
to seniority, I picked different routes. Operating a train, I
would break down and cry.
December 31st of 2011 is when I was allowed to retire. I
have post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, asthma,
rhinitis. No, it doesn't get any easier. No, not at all. I always
think about everybody that died at that point. And why am I
still here?
20 years, I mean, it seems like yesterday.