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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, February 25, 2024

Eyewitnesses tell of narrow escapes

The acts of terrorism that swept across New York City and Washington, D.C., Tuesday led to close calls and tense moments for some residents of those cities who spent the day in the shadows of the devastation. 




Paul Wuh was at work in his building on the southern tip of Manhattan, a half-mile south of the World Trade Center. The equities analyst and his co-workers gathered at a window, watching smoke billow from the first stricken tower. 




'It was surreal; it was like watching one of those action movies,' Wuh said in an interview with The Daily Cardinal. 




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Before he saw the second crash, Wuh said he believed the initial collision was a freak air-traffic-control accident. 




His mind changed, however, when the second plane struck the other tower. 




'It was a perfectly, perfectly clear morning,' Wuh said. 'Why would the plane just crash into a building'? 




Following the crashes, Wuh said he heard screams of 'Oh my God, we gotta get out of here,' and then followed co-workers evacuating the building 'in a daze.' 




With the city's transit system closed, Wuh said downtowners headed north on Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive, the normally congested main thoroughfare on Manhattan's east side. 




Then the first tower collapsed. 




'It was like a volcano had erupted'there were all these bits and pieces and ash falling on me,' Wuh said. 




Although some people were screaming, the exodus was unnaturally calm, Wuh said. 




'People were walking slowly away from the site,' Wuh said. 'It was like a marathon.' 




Brooklyn resident Jessie Johnson described a more hectic scene on the city's subway system. 




'People were flipping out and screaming and crying and watching loved ones,' Johnson said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. 'When I got off the train there were a lot of people around; it was like a delayed reaction, everyone kind of finding out by other people.' 




Another New Yorker, Jeremiah Marble, told The Daily Cardinal he arrived at work about a half-hour later than his normal time, finding that his office on the 62nd floor of a World Trade Center tower was no longer there. 




Instead, at about 9:20 a.m., Marble emerged from the subway to find his workplace engulfed in flames. 




'It turned out that it saved my life,' he said. 




For Washington, D.C., resident Michael Karphen, Tuesday's events seemed more like a horrific memory. At the time of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, he worked for former New York Mayor David Dinkins and was at his office in downtown Manhattan when Karphen was called to the scene. 




'We thought that was horrendous, but it's nothing compared to this,' Karphen told The Daily Cardinal. 




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