Much attention has focused on the heroic efforts of New York City police, firefighters, and emergency workers during and after the catastrophic attack on the World Trade Center complex in lower Manhattan. Monday, some of the police who survived the disaster recounted their own harrowing tales.
At a highly emotional news conference organized by the police union, two officers who survived the disaster twice told their heartbreaking stories.
Officer Phil Deaury and a colleague were pulled out of the rubble of the South Tower when it crumbled. They immediately rejoined the rescue effort and were trapped in an air pocket in the North Tower when it collapsed. They were rescued about half-an-hour later. Officer Deaury is still working at the site determined to find some of the colleagues he left behind.
Officer Deaury said "It is a horror to know that they are in there. It is very frustrating that we cannot just go to where they are and find them. It is a very, very difficult thing. It is a very difficult thing to know that they are in there and waiting for you to get them. We just cannot at this point. We will, but it is going to take a little time," Deaury said.
More than 400 firefighters and police and emergency workers are among the 5,400 missing people. Most of them disappeared trying to shepherd terrified workers out of the two 110-story Twin Towers that once dominated the New York skyline.
More than ever, officer Patrick Lynch says, his heroes are his colleagues and the firefighters, ironworkers and construction workers who are digging through the mountains of debris. "They did not ask any questions (about) who the person was they were rescuing, where that person was from, the color of their skin," Lynch said. "They went in unselfishly. One person who came out of this could not have put it better. She said 'I was running out of that building to save my life, and police officers and firefighters were running into that building.' And she knew they were running to their death," Lynch said.
Hopes of finding victims alive is fading, but experts say it is still possible some may have survived in air pockets created by the collapse of the buildings. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, however, has begun to caution New Yorkers not to have high expectations.