October 21, 2021

Avoiding 9/11 was ‘just the first part of the journey.’ Free.

NEW YORK (AP) – Trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center, Will Gemino led an unimaginable life. Twenty years later, he is still living with her.

A brace on his left leg and a quarter-sized duvet reflect the injuries that ended his police career, a lifelong dream. She has post traumatic stress disorder. He has a shelf of monuments, including crosses and small twin towers made of steel from the mall. He was featured in a film and wrote two books about enduring trials.

“It never goes away, for those of us who were there that day,” he says.

Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network hijackers killed four commercial jets on September 11, 2001, in a commercial center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. .

They climbed the smoky stairs in the twin towers of the World Trade Center or climbed out of the blazing Pentagon. Some escaped from the dust cloud of another world at ground zero. Others wanted to get out of the pitch dark debris.

9/11 Survivors carry scars and unanswered questions. Some people fight for their place in the tragedy, which is defined by the huge loss of life. They are told to end 9/11. But he also says he has gained flexibility, purpose, appreciation and determination.

“One of the things I’ve learned is to never give up,” says Gemino.

‘It’s like you’re born again’

This was not Bruce Stephen’s first incredibly close call.

In 1989, his car got dangerously stuck on the San Francisco-Auckland Bay Bridge when the Loma Preta earthquake struck and the upper deck collapsed while he was driving.

Twelve years later, engineers and lawyers were sitting on the 65th floor of the North Tower of the Trade Center on their working day when a plane crashed with about 30 stories above.

After walking for about an hour through the crowded stairs, Stephen learned that another plane had crashed into the South Tower – the building where his wife, Young, who is also a lawyer, works on the 91st floor. Above the impact zone.

Unable to reach her via cell phone, Bruce Stephen reached for a pay phone and called his relatives, who told him she was out.

Then the south tower collapsed, and Stephen’s fears grew again. Was the young man trapped in the disaster? Hours later, he finally found out that he was OK. (At least one other couple, elevator operators Arturo and Carmen Griffith, also survived. Their story influenced a recent film, Leo Birds of the Twin Towers.)

“My experience from the first disaster was that it was a wonderful moment to know that you survived,” says Bruce Stephen. “It’s almost like you’re born again … knowing you’re alive and you still have a shot of life, and here’s your chance to do something.”

“When it happened a second time, it was like, ‘Oh, my God.’

In the aftermath of the earthquake, New York City residents vowed to change their workaholic lives. After 9/11, they did.

Within two months, the couple moved to Essex, a New York town of about 700 people. While telecomming and sometimes actually traveling, he made time for other things – church, a book club, amateur theater, gardening, zoning meetings, a local newsletter. He liked a new sense of community.

But a job opportunity pulled him back to San Francisco in 2009. He liked it so much that an epidemic forced him to rethink his life.

“One of the things we discovered as a result of the disaster was that being in a community is probably the biggest reward,” said Stephen, 65, from his front porch in Essex. They went back last year.

‘I was a walking zombie’

Désirée Bouchat stops by one of the names inscribed on the 9/11 memorial: James Patrick Berger. He last saw her on the 101st floor of the south tower of the mall.

“Some days, it looks like it happened yesterday,” she says.

At first people thought the plane crash on the North Tower was an accident. There was no immediate evacuation order for the South Tower. But Berger started Butcht and other Avon corporations. The elevator crew then turned back to check on more people.

As Bouchet exited the South Tower, another plane crashed into him. About 180 workers, including Berger, were killed.

For a moment, Buchat told everyone, including himself: “I’m fine. I’m alive.”

But “I was a walking zombie,” she says now.

She could no longer do multitasking. There was no reaction to the remarks that bothered him. She was working, but through a fog that took more than a year to lift.

Bouchat finally felt he needed to talk about 9/11. The Springfield, New Jersey resident now leads approximately 5,500 visits to the 9/11 Tribute Museum (separate from the September 11 major National Memorial and Museum).

Bruce Powers has also traveled from Alexandria, Virginia to lead tours of the Tribute Museum. And every September 11, the 82-year-old repeats his seven-mile (11-kilometer) walk home from the Pentagon after the attack, which killed 184 people, 10 of whom he knew.

The personal stories of walks, tours and other guides “help me deal with what happened,” says Powers, a retired Navy Aviation Planner.

The public did not fully recognize the losses that survived, says Mary Fatet, a social worker who lost her son Brad on 9/11 and founded the Voices Center for Flexibility, a family of victims. , A support and advocacy group for first responders and survivors. “Even though they are still alive, they are living in a very different way.”

‘I can’t figure out how I’m alive’

For the time being after 9/11, Marc de Marco, a police officer, re-imagined what was going on in his mind. If he went to the right instead of the left. A little earlier Or later.

“I didn’t know how I got out of there alive,” he says.

After helping to evacuate the North Tower, an emergency services unit officer was trapped in a maze of debris when parts of a skyscraper fell on a small building where he was instructed. Some officers were killed along with him.

Barely able to see his shoes with a small flashlight, De Marco retreated from the ruins with two officers.

Then he took a step and felt nothing under his feet. He looked down and saw complete darkness.

Only later – when the officers turned around and finally clung to safety through the scattered windows – did De Marco realize that he had fallen into a dug-out pit.

Now 68 and retired, De Marco still wears a wrist band featuring the names of 14 ESU members who were killed that day. He worries that the public memory of the attacks is fading, that over time a false sense of security has been created.

“Enjoy life. Don’t be afraid,” he says. “But be careful.”

‘It’s not something to get’

Tsunami of dust over emergency medical technician Guy Sanders, so thick that he closed his surgical mask.

The 47-story building at the 7th World Trade Center had just collapsed, about seven hours after the burning towers collapsed and debris set fire to small tall buildings.

Sanders, a part-time EMS supervisor for a private ambulance company in the city, went on a rampage to respond to his day job at the Long Island Collection Agency. He was on his way when the towers collapsed, killing eight EMA workers, including his colleague Emil Marino. Sanders went to the funeral after EMTs, firefighters and police.

Yet 9/11 only deepened its commitment to EMS. Although it was financially difficult, it soon became full-time.

“I never wanted to be in a situation where people needed me and I couldn’t respond immediately,” he says.

He still doesn’t. But health problems – including a rare cancer linked to the federal government’s dust exposure to the mall – forced Sanders, 62, who now lives near Orangeburg, South Carolina, to retire in 2011.

“You tell people, ‘Well, (9/11) happened a long time ago. End it.’ But it’s a shock, “says Sanders, who first joined the Respondents and Survivors Support Group. “It’s not something to be achieved. It’s something to focus on.”

‘Survival is just the first part of the journey’

Breathing through an oxygen mask on a hospital bed, Wendy Lansky said to herself: “If Osama bin Laden hadn’t killed me, I wouldn’t have died of cowardice.”

Nearly two decades ago, the health insurance manager escaped from the 29th floor of the North Tower and ran barefoot through a cloud of dust from the collapse of the South Tower. Eleven of his umpire Blue Cross Blue Shields died.

“The only good thing about avoiding a tragedy or disaster of any kind is that it definitely makes you more flexible,” says Lensky, who was hospitalized with the corona virus. As was her husband – Spring 2020 for two weeks

“Living is just the first part of the journey,” said Lensky, 51, of West Orange, New Jersey.

It has twin towers, “9/11/01” and “Survivor” ankle tattoos. But the attacks left other marks, which he did not choose.

Pictures and voices of falling people and glass pans are preserved in his memory. He was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 2006. The federal government has concluded that the inflammatory disease may be linked to commercial center dust. And he asked himself: “Why am I here and not 3,000 people?”

In time, he accepted the offer.

“But when I’m here, I have to count it,” says Lansky, who has spoken at schools and traveled to conferences about victims of terrorism. “I have to miss the 3,000 people who have lost their voices.”

‘It motivates me to live a better life’

Buried in the darkness of debris 20 feet (6 meters) or more from both towers, Will Gemino was ready to die.

The Port Authority of New York and the New Jersey Police Department were suffering from pain from the crumbling wall to its left. Fellow officer Dominic Pizzolo died with him. The flaming debris fell on Gemino’s arm and heated the narrow area so much that Pizzolo’s gun fired, causing a wave of bullets to run down Gemino’s head. He was screaming for help for hours. He was very thirsty.

“If I died today,” he recalls, “at least I died trying to help people.”

Then Gemino, a Catholic, is seen walking towards a masked man with a bottle of water in his hand.

“We’re going out,” he told the sergeant. John McLaughlin, who was stuck with it.

Advancing back pain, thinking about surviving past disasters, talking about staying alert – finding them before meeting with former U.S. Marines, NYPD officers, one-time paramedics and firefighters and It was time to move the debris and fall.

“If you wanted to make a picture of what hell looks like, that was probably it,” recalls Ken Winkler, a NYPD officer at the time.

Gemino was released at about 11 a.m. the next morning. Gemini underwent surgery and a long recovery.

But he says his psychological recovery was difficult. The trivialities made him lose his temper – fuel, he realized now, outraged at the deaths of his comrades and the rescuers couldn’t help. Sometimes, he says, he thought of committing suicide. It took him three years and more than one physician before he mastered explosion prevention.

She told her story in Oliver Stone’s 2006 film “World Trade Center” and in Gemino’s two newly released books, Children’s Truth for Children, “Immigrants, Americans, Survivors” and “Sunrise Through Darkness”. Helped to tell. About dealing with trauma

The Colombian-born U.S. Navy veteran hopes people will see his story “The Flexibility of the Human Soul, the American Spirit” and the power of good people moving forward in bad times.

“It motivates me to live a better life,” said Gemino, 53, of Chester, New Jersey, on Sept. 11. “The way I can honor those we have lost and those who have been injured is to live a productive life. To be an example to others that 9/11 did not destroy us.”

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