NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The story of 9/11 is filled with horrible death and destruction, but also amazing stories of survival.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story
One such story has been called “The Miracle of Stairway B.”
“The collapse of the north tower started with us still inside,” said deputy fire chief Jay Jonas.
Jonas is one of 14 people who, by some mystifying combination of luck and timing, found safety in a stairway as the North Tower crumbled around them.
“The noise got louder and louder and the collapse got closer. Anytime a floor would hit another floor, it created tremendous vibration and sound within the stairway and we were being bounced around on the floor and we also had a sound of twisting steel all around us,” he said.
“We covered up as best we could. It created tremendous amounts of wind so strong that it picked up one of my fireman, Matt Komorowski, and it flew him down two flights of stairs. We were being pelted with debris. Then the collapse stopped and, to our amazement, we were alive and we were coughing and gagging and pulling debris out of our mouths,” Jonas told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
Jonas was a captain with Ladder 6. He was evacuating his men who were, in his words, running for their lives, but they stopped to help a crying woman, Josephine Harris, a Port Authority bookkeeper.
Despite the slow pace, they would not abandon her.
They made it to the 4th floor.
“We were dead men walking,” he said. “If she wasn’t there, God knows where we would have been. We had to be in that spot. We couldn’t have been any slower, and if we were faster, if you were on the ground floor, just outside the building you wouldn’t have made it. We kind of had to be where we were and she helped put us there.”
They called her their guardian angel.
They all spent four hours trapped until eventually sunlight breached the broken tower’s mangled structure and they managed to get out.
Earlier this year, Josephine Harris died from a heart attack. The men of Ladder 6 carried the coffin.
When Jonas thinks of Sept. 11 he focuses on good not evil.
“It’s a day shrouded in horror and grief and bereavement that you forget how many heroic things were going on that day,” said Jonas. “It was also our finest hour.”
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