Kevin Boyer's story of September 11, 2001
Landing in New York that evening the skyline of Manhattan was directly out my window. I actually thought what a wonderful site the World Trade Center towers were.
After a day of work at the New York/New Jersey Port Authority I went to work out at the hotel facilities. I returned back to my room and turned on my TV, to watch Monday Night Football. I moved the hotel chair in front of the TV. When I moved the chair I found a penny underneath it, I thought, "Find a penny pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck". I said to myself, "a day means the next 24 hours".
I left my hotel around 7:30 am. On the way to World Trade Center I realized I had forgotten my cell phone. I decided to return at lunchtime to get the phone. I went to me desk on the 70th floor of 1 World Trade Center.
I had just sat down at my desk with my second cup of coffee (sometime around 8:45am). Immediately the building shook as if we were having a major earthquake. I jumped up out of my chair only to hear someone yell "Everybody stand still". I grabbed hold of the partition that was next to my desk. I looked out the window to my right and saw debris falling. The building stopped shaking/swaying and someone yelled, "Let's go". As soon as we hit the stairways my prayers began.
We started our descent down the stairs. In my immediate vicinity no one actually knew what had happened to make the building shake. The exit from the building was actually quite orderly. There were a number of people extremely nervous and hyperventilating. Women were taking their shoes off in order make it easier to walk. You could smell/see smoke and smell what seemed like gas, neither was overwhelming.
At the 44th floor we were taken from our current stairway exit to a different stairway. It was at this point someone said a plane had hit the building. My first instinct was that it was a small plane and that it was an accident. At this point I met up with Kyle Crager from Crestone.
The exiting of the building slowed considerably at this point. People who had been burned and/or injured were being brought down and the firefighters were trying to get into different floors of the building to make sure everyone had been evacuated. The firemen were sweating profusely under their protective gear. Many people being evacuated were starting to have a hard time catching their breath as we descended down the stairs.
Somewhere around the5th or 6th floor we had to start walking through water that was running down the steps. We finally reached the first floor. We were now able to see out the windows into the outside plaza that was behind the World Trade Centers. There were red streaks on some of the windows and on the ground.
We were told to exit to the through the mall at the World Trade Center, which is one level lower than where we were at. We went down the escalators and into the mall. The sprinklers were on and they soaked us as we walked through. My thoughts were that if this was the worst thing that happened I would be OK.
Finally we exited from the World Trade Center. We immediately looked up and saw both buildings on fire. It was a site I'll always remember.
We started walking away from the area. I knew my wife and kids would now be frantic not knowing whether or not I had made it out of the building. Every pay phone we saw had lines of people making calls. I finally just walked into a small business and told them that I was from St. Louis and could I please call my family and let them know I was okay. The man said okay and I made the phone call. To say the least everyone was relieved that I was out and okay. While talking to wife on the phone the man in the office was listening to the news and we heard a plane had hit the Pentagon and my wife told me they had also had one hit near Pittsburgh. Kyle, the Crestone employee I was with, asked that I give my wife his home phone number so she could call his wife and let her know that he was okay.
We left the company we were at and stood outside discussing what we should be doing. Kyle wanted to try and call our company and let them know that everyone had made it out.
We were walking back towards the World Trade Center, we stopped once again to look at the buildings on fire. Kyle noted that if these buildings collapse everyone in the area was in big trouble, I told him these buildings will never collapse.
We walked a little farther, I recognized the area and realized we were only 1 or 2 blocks from my hotel. We stopped to look at the World Trade Center buildings. All of a sudden a loud noise was heard and everyone started screaming and running. My last sight of Kyle is him running from the area. I thought there were other bombs going off. Dust and debris was hitting everyone. People were running into each other and trying to get away from the debris. You couldnít see anything. I got behind a concrete planter that was maybe ten feet away. Before I got to the planter the dust and debris was on top of me. There were people jumping on top of me and people running into me.
I believe I am going to die. I knew at any moment something would strike me or fall on top of me. If that doesnít happen then Iím going to choke to death on the dust and debris.
I had many feelings at this time. My first was extreme disappointment. I would never see my family, friends, and coworkers again. I had strong thoughts towards my wife and children. Marissa, my oldest daughter, had left to go back to college and I had not been able to say goodbye. Does she know that I love her, how proud I am of her, she's already been through too much in her young life, will she be able to make it through this? I see Marissa's smile and hear her voice. Katy, my youngest daughter, had told me goodbye before I left. I really hurt for Katy. She is so young this will decimate her. I see her in front of me, her head cocked and her hands on her waist. Linda, my wife, the love of my life. I know Linda like know one else. She will act brave and tell everyone she is okay. I know her heart will be broken forever and she will not let anyone know. I see her, she is crying, she can't stop, she has no sparkle left in her eyes. My parents, brother and sisters and their spouses, I had just seen them over Labor Day weekend, I will miss them. We had a lot of fun growing up. My mother-in-law and father-in-law, I have tried to help them as much as possible, will someone else be there to help. I think of all the kids on my soccer teams. My friends, I know they will be there for my wife and kids; they are the best that anyone could ask for. I find this very comforting. All these thoughts occurred to me within seconds of the building collapse and dust and debris coming at us.
The dust and debris have stopped moving. I can't breathe, can't see, I'm going to choke to death. I am swallowing and breathing the dust/debris. Someone yells to close your eyes. I unbutton my shirt and cover my mouth, I can't breathe that way either. This seems to last forever. I am standing now. I look to my left and see light, are they small holes on the dust where sunlight is coming through? I reach out to touch the light. The light has had a calming influence on me. I am starting to think I'm going to survive. I realize that the lights are decorative lights on the tree inside the planter I had used for coverage. The dust is settling and you can now see well enough to walk away.
I have so much dust and debris in mouth that I am still choking trying to get it out. There is a small food wagon nearby. People are taking the drinks to get the stuff out of their mouths. The owner of the wagon comes running over to make sure that everyone pays for the drinks. I give him two dollars for a bottle of iced tea. I rinse out my mouth and spit it out. My eyes, nose, and ears are full of dust and debris.
It is still tough to breathe. I walk into a building to catch my breath. I walk into the building through a door and out of the building where a window used to be. The building behind were I was standing has lost all the windows on the bottom floor. I have lost Kyle and hope that he is okay. People are yelling the names of other people. Fighter jets roar over the area, everyone starts running again thinking it is another attack. They quickly realize it is only jets and everyone slows down.
I check myself over and see that I have blood on the front and back of my shirt and t-shirt. I am not bleeding but I donít know whose blood is on me. I am covered in a gray dust and the area is covered in the same dust with paper all over.
I start walking and I hear a police officer say to walk north. I'm not sure which direction is north but I start following everyone else. I realize now that one of the buildings has collapsed. It seems to be an unreal view, only one tower remains. I am walking trying to get as far away as possible. The second building collapses. I am far enough away as to not be affected by the dust and debris.
I am now just walking. I stop every 5 or 6 blocks to try and find a phone. The pay phones all have long lines. I stop at 3, wait in line, only to not be able to make a call because all of the long distance lines seem to be out. I am extremely frustrated and I'm very concerned about my family. I need to let them know I'm okay. Where should I go? Everyone just seems to be stumbling along; no one can believe what has happened.
A man invites people into his apartment building to use his phone and get water and use the restroom. He is arguing with the apartment manager and a police officer, they don't want people going into the building. I enter the building hoping I can use the phone. He is taking people to his apartment 2 at a time. I get tired of waiting and leave the building to continue walking north.
Some fish markets are offering there hoses to clean off. I stop at three different ones and clean myself up. At each one I feel like I am cleaner, but each time I pass another one they ask me if I want to clean up.
I finally reach the Williamsburg bridge and cross over into Brooklyn. I am amazed at the number of people crossing the bridge. It looks like all of New York has decided to walk out of the city. I reach the Brooklyn side of the bridge and numerous people offer me water. I walk around looking for people from Crestone. I am unable to find anyone. I spent awhile just walking around the immediate area of the bridge. I find a pay phone, it doesn't work. It is after lunch and I need to eat something. I realize I only have three dollars. None of the ATM's will work.
I see a young lady holding up a sign. It says "Come in, use our phone, use our restrooms". I am finally able to call home. I say "I'm still okay". The name of the company was Brooklyn Legal Services. It is now around 12:30pm, I call my wife and family again. I call my company and find that everyone has made it out of the building safely. Once again everyone ask me if I want to cleanup. I go to a restroom and look in the mirror, I have dust everywhere.
I have to find something to clean my eyes out. They are just one big red spot. A man from the company takes me next door to a drug store. I buy some contact solution and eye drops. I go back to the company and take out my contact and put drops in my eyes.
I need to find a place to spend the night. I ask the lady who has been helping me and she asks her boss. He tells me that there is a Marriot about 5 or 6 blocks from where I'm at. I go there and there is no hotel. I walk around trying to find any hotel in the area. I go back to the legal services firm and tell them I can't find the hotel. They tell me I didn't go far enough. I walk back thinking I just need to go farther. Still no hotel. I walk back to the legal services firm. A different person gives me directions. He says it's two to three miles to downtown Brooklyn. I should go to the bus stop and wait for bus number 61, it will take me to the Marriot. I go to the bus stop and sit down on the side walk. I ask the people around me if I'm at the right spot. Everyone says I am but the bus is late. I sit there for about a half hour and no bus comes. I ask for directions and take off walking again.
I finally make it to the hotel. They don't have any rooms. I contact my wife and let her know where I am. I call my company and tell them I need someplace to stay. They want me to walk further and I tell them I can't. I am mentally and physically exhausted. I will just sleep on the floor somewhere in this hotel.
I go into a hotel meeting room that has been set up to help people who have been stranded. I finally get some food, two apples and some juice. I sit down and watch the TV's they have on. I can't really think straight and I spend a lot of time just walking around the hotel. I go to the hotel bar and order two beers and some chicken fingers. I doesn't even occur to me that I'm a filthy dirty mess with blood on my shirt and T-shirt. I start talking to the people sitting next to me. After hearing my story one of the men offers me the extra bed in his room and the opportunity to take a shower.
I go to his room and collapse to my knee's next to the bed. I am thanking God for saving my life and praying for those who I hope can still be saved from the World Trade Center. I ask Him to please watch out for my family until I get home
I go to the bathroom and start taking off my clothes. My shoes are covered with dirt, I just stick those under the water running for the shower. I take my clothes off and dirt falls everywhere. I get into the shower and it seems like it took forever to get the dirt out of my hair. I put my clothes back on. I went back downstairs to the hotel gift shop and buy new socks, underwear, and a NYPD T-shirt. I go back to the room and call my wife. At 10 o'clock I laid down on the bed. I didn't sleep all night I kept reliving the collapse of the building.
It's 5:30 am and the guy I am sharing the room with is getting ready to leave. He tells me they are renting a car and will be driving back to Cincinnati. He would ask me to go but the car is full. I tell him thanks and he leaves. He leaves me his email address. I get up out of bed and almost fall over. My legs will barely move and my feet are killing me. I can't touch the top of my right foot, each time I do it is a new experience in pain. I want to call home but I realize it is to early. I turn on the TV to check the news. I get a shower and go downstairs. I walk into the room they have made for people who have been stranded. They have food for breakfast. I went back to my room and called my wife and then my parents.
I left that room and went to the front desk to get a room for the night. I knew I wouldn't be able to fly out until at least Thursday. I got a new room. I decided I need a new pair of pants. It was around noon and I was just limping around Brooklyn. I saw a church that had a 12:10 pm mass. I went to the mass and everyone has this look of pain and sorrow on there face. The priest seems to be at a lost for words.
I went back to my room and got a call from my wife. A radio show, called Steve & DC, wants to interview me over the phone. I said ok and about an hour later they called me. I described the events of the day to them. I received calls from family and friends.
It's Thursday morning, I wake up thinking Iím going home today. I had breakfast at the hotel and checked the news to see if the airports were going to open. It looks good. I get a cab and go to JFK airport. Itís about noon. The airport announces only one flight is being allowed to fly today, itís going to Puerto Rico. The phones donít work. I talk to a couple from St. Louis. They are coming back from vacation and donít have any money for a hotel, the airlines will not pay for it. The girl calls her dad and he is trying to make reservations for them.
I get on a hotel shuttle to find a phone that will work. I contact my wife and then my company. I am told that there is a flight from LaGuardia that will leave around five pm. I take a cab to LaGuardia. There is no plane. I go back to the Marriott in Brooklyn. I feel like Iím never going to make it home. I am very frustrated. I call my company. They have made reservations for me to fly out of Philadelphia on Friday morning. A car will pick me up at 2:30 am.
I am picked up at 2:30 and make the flight from Philadelphia to St Louis. The plane lands around 10:30 central time. My wife and kids meet me outside security. People look at us like weíre weird, because theyíre all crying. I am home.
WTC1 Survivor (70th Floor)
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