9/11 First Responder’s Recount: ‘Horrific Things No Human Being Should Have To See’

Photo: REUTERS/Sean Adair

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
Font Size:

Tim Brown, a decorated 20-year FDNY firefighter who’s retired, survived the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and “saw some horrific things there that no human being should have to see with their own eyes.”

Brown, who also responded to the 1993 WTC bombing and is a former member of the New York Urban Search & Rescue Task Force team that responded to the 1995 terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, lost 93 of his friends in the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago, including his two best friends, Terry Hatton and Paddy Brown.

“On September 11, I was in 7 World Trade Center, when the first plane flew over the roof and slammed into the North Tower. I was in the lobby of Tower 1. I saw my best friend Terry Hatton in Rescue 1 and we said goodbye to each other in the lobby before he went up the stairwell,” Brown told The Daily Caller.

Brown went over to the South Tower command post where the plane had already hit.

“The lobby was filling up with people who were very badly injured — who mistakenly thought they were safe when they had descended 70 or 80 floors with severe injuries and they collapsed in the lobby,” said Brown.

“The lobby was full of people who were burned bloody and broken and dying. It prevented us from evacuating the stairwell. So Chief Donald Burns of the fire department sent me out of the tower on Liberty Street to go get the paramedics and get the injured out of the lobby,” Brown said. “I grabbed three paramedics and we were going back into the lobby of Tower 2. We were about 20 feet from the door of Tower 2 and the building collapsed.”

Brown went on to explain: “It was very obvious. It was very loud. You could hear each floor collapsing on top of the next floor as the top of the tower came down. And we ran next-door to the Marriott hotel which was 3 World Trade Center in the lobby of the Marriott.”

Brown and others went into the hotel’s Twelve Ships restaurant and according to him it was “clear as a bell.” However, the horror was not over yet.

“And just a snap of a finger it was pitch black and the wind picked up to what was eventually scientifically proved to be 185 mph where we were. Everything was blowing at you,” Brown said. “The building collapsing around you because Tower 2 collapsed on the Marriott and the Marriott collapsed around us. You couldn’t breathe. You couldn’t hear and you basically waited to be crushed.”

Brown and those around him were saved, he believes, by the infrastructure precautions taken by construction workers after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing

“I survived because the area of the Marriott that was destroyed in the 1993 terrorist bombing, the steel workers when they rebuilt it being good New Yorkers and good American patriots, used steel that was much too big and so if you look at all the photographs of the rubble after afterwards you’ll see that little corner of the Marriott that is still standing after the whole thing. And that’s because of these patriots who built it after the ‘93 bombing,” said Brown.

Prior to almost being crushed to death beneath rubble from the Marriott Hotel, as Brown and Fire Chief Burns ran from Tower 1 to Tower 2, a civilian grabbed Brown and told him people were trapped in an elevator.

“I said, ‘show me.’ I split up with Chief Burns, and he went to the command post and I followed the civilian and we went to the elevator bank in Tower 2 and the hoist way doors were open so you could see into the shaft of the elevator and there was an elevator car that you could see at the top of the shaft so the elevator car didn’t come all the way down, so people could get out. It stopped so all you could see at the top of the door at the top of the opening was their feet. So it was only about a 1-foot gap. And they were screaming in panic.”

The men in the elevator were trying to use their arms to pull the car down more so they could slide out of the car. What Brown did not know at that time was that the elevator car had fallen 70 stories because the cable was cut by the plane when it hit and the emergency brakes in the elevator kicked in and stopped the car before it smashed into the pit. No passengers were killed from the drop.

“They’d just free fallen 70 something floors. But they were screaming at this point because the elevator pit right beneath them was full of jet fuel and it was on fire so they were basically in a barbecue like a hamburger or a hotdog. And they were getting burned to death,” said Brown.

Although Brown was a fireman he was wearing a suit and tie instead of his gear because he worked for then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the office of emergency management.

“I told the people around me to go find as many fire extinguishers as they could, and so they started bringing me fire extinguishers, and we tried to fight the fire to put it out, but it was a jet fuel fire and you just don’t put those out that easily. And in my frustration, I kind of turned to my right just looked to see if I could figure something out to help these poor people, who by the way, were screaming in pure torture.”

As Brown looked over his right shoulder a fireman in full gear was there. It was his friend Mike Lynch from Times Square.

“He put his hand on my shoulder and he said, ‘Timmy, I got it.’”

“Mike might as well have had wings coming out of his shoulders, because he was the angel that was going to save those poor people’s lives. I had to leave there and leave firefighter Michael Lynch of Ladder 4, because we got over the radio that the third plane was coming in, and I had to go and try to get air cover from the military.”

During the search and recovery effort, Lynch’s body was found with the people in the elevator Brown, said. However, one woman, who they believe survived the elevator, says she owes her life to Lynch’s heroics.

“We think he saved two people before the building came down, but we know for sure [at least] one, because one woman relays a story being in that elevator car and the fireman with a red 4 on his helmet saved her life. So we know Mike saved at least one. We think two. We can’t prove it, but we think two before the building collapsed.”

First responders heard bodies crashing into the glass overhangs and slamming into the ground as people jumped or were even pushed out of broken windows of the towers. Sources say that people struggling in the building’s thick smoke and looking for their last breath tried to find broken windows.

However, they panicked as they pushed their way through others to get a last gasp of air and inadvertently pushed individuals in front of them out the window.

The House and Senate passed a bill recently which will allow 9/11 victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia if the country is found legally responsible for helping support the terrorist attacks of 9/11. President Obama objects to the legislation, saying it leaves the U.S. open to similar lawsuits.

Follow Kerry on Twitter