Page 4 - MidWeek Kauai - Sep 8 2021
P. 4

           On the anniversary of the deadly attacks on the World Trade Center, Hawai‘i resident Paul “Pablo” Sanchez reflects on that fateful morning when he and his co-workers escaped death.
 T he morning of Sept. 11, 2001, seemed like any other day for Paul “Pablo” Sanchez. He had just grabbed an egg
with two of his co-workers, Peter Webster and Diane Murray. To- gether, the trio quickly descended the stairs, as the corridors grew suf- focatingly crowded with occupants who were just as desperate to get out of the building.
sandwich and some orange juice for breakfast when he hopped aboard an elevator bound for the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower 2 — an ascent that normally took him about 10 minutes to complete.
“We found the next staircase on the 44th floor and we started going down that one, and now the stairs are crowded with lots of people, debris, clothes, coffee cups. It’s seeming a little bit more serious now (as) people are crying,” explains Sanchez, who estimated there were roughly 600 workers on the 92nd floor alone.
A relatively new recruit for the insurance company Aon Corp., Sanchez arrived eager to get back to his normal duties after he and his cubicle mates had been stuck in an insur- ance class the day before.
Less than 24 hours later, they were all back in the office making a fuss about how boring the previous day’s session had been.
“Finally, we made it down to maybe the 42nd or 40th floor, and all of a sudden I feel the building shake, like I felt it rumble. None of us really know what it is,” he recalls, “but it turns out, that’s when we were hit by the (second) airplane.”
And then it happened. In an instant, theirs and everyone else’s world changed.
As Sanchez recalls, “We’re all there talking and complaining and commiserat- ing, and all of a sudden the sky turns black, like it ... rained so hard. Then the next few seconds, the entire sky seemed to be night, and I guess that’s when the plane hit the other building, because you could feel the radiant heat from whatever exploded ... I didn’t see (the first tower) get hit, but I did see the sky change colors ... It was quite intense, and so I immediately ran for the stairs. I didn’t go to the elevators.”
Twenty years after the deadliest attack on U.S. soil, Sanchez, a resident of the Big Is- land, still can’t shake the memories of that fateful day when two commercial airplanes hijacked by terrorists flew into the center’s twin towers in New York City.
sonnel were already on hand barking orders for everyone to get out of the area.
some high heels while descending the Tower 2 stairs, the trio decided to stop in at a store to grab her flat shoes.
As for his breakfast: “I left my sandwich and my orange juice.”
The catastrophe caused the structures to collapse and resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people and injuries to thousands more.
“The first thing I did when I got out of the building is I picked up my cellphone and it actually worked. I called my best friend who lives in Brooklyn, and I said, ‘Please call my entire family and let them know that I’m out now.’ My cellphone didn’t seem to work after that at all,” he recalls.
“I saw dust snaking its way through the buildings ... we ran away from the dust and started walking up 7th Avenue,” recalls San- chez, who was luckily still able to catch a commuter train back to where he lived on Long Island. He stopped in briefly at his
Sanchez sprinted down the stairs to the 78th floor express elevator, where he met up
In thinking back on the events of that morning, Sanchez explains that after he and his co-workers were finally able to reach the World Trade Center lobby, emergency per-
Since Murray had damaged her cumber-
They also shouted at people to not use their cellphones, but Sanchez chose to disregard the advice.
Soon after, as the co-workers walked to the Manhattan courthouse, they felt a rumbling sensation ripping through the neighborhood as debris began raining down everywhere.

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