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Clark was one of only eighteen people in the South Tower to escape from a floor above the plane's impact. No one escaped above the impact point in the North Tower. Clark's testimony before the 9/11 Commission, where he detailed problems with the 911 emergency call system, has been widely quoted.
Second impact Edit
The second impact occurred at 9:03 a.m. just a few floors below Clark's floor. Clark turned on his fire-warden flashlight and gathered his remaining colleagues, a party of seven. They started down one of the three stairwells. When they got to the 81st floor they encountered two people who were trying to ascend to the roof, where they thought they could get fresher air. The pair of people ascending from the lower floor described the stairs as impassable, blocked by fire and smoke. They tried to convince Clark's party to join them in climbing higher. Those reaching the top floor would have encountered locked doors barring access to the roof.
Rescue of Stanley Praimnath Edit
Clark was called out of this debate when he heard a voice calling for help. Some of the drywall that was supposed to enclose the stairwell had fallen away, so Clark and his co-worker Ron DiFrancesco left the others to seek out that voice. DiFrancesco was soon overcome by smoke and returned to the stairway by himself.
Stanley Praimnath had been buried under some fallen debris. With Clark's help he was able to extricate himself, and when they returned to the stairwell, the others were already gone, so Clark and Praimnath elected to descend instead of heading upward after them. According to an interview with both of them in a special documentary aired in 2005, Praimnath was so grateful that Clark had rescued him, that he hugged and kissed his saver, rather surprising Clark.
Clark and Praimnath's descent through the floors of the impact was impeded by some debris and smoke, but by removing the debris, it was passable.
The airliner that struck the North Tower had struck it perpendicular to the north face, its impact severing all the elevators and all three stairwells. The airliner that struck the South Tower struck at an angle. It severed two stairwells but left Stairway A, the one they were using, more or less intact.
A few floors below the impact, they encountered one of Clark's colleagues, José Marrero, ascending and using a walkie-talkie. Marrero had received a call from another of Clark's colleagues above, David Vera, saying his party needed help. Clark tried to convince his colleague not to ascend but Marrero insisted on going higher to help Vera and the others.
At the Skylobby on the 44th floor Clark and Praimnath encountered a Port Authority employee, who was tending to a severely injured tenant. He told them that all the phones were out on that floor. He asked them, when they had access to a working phone, to have someone send an EMT to care for this injured tenant.
The phones were working in Oppenheimer's offices on the 31st floor. Clark was on the telephone for over three minutes before his 911 call was understood. This call might have been the only chance for rescue workers to learn that there was a clear stairwell that the several hundred people trapped above the impact could try to use to escape.
Clark described how he and Praimnath did not feel a sense of urgency, and after calling 911 they each made one brief personal call.
When they got to the ground floor there were rescue workers, and one advised them to run, once they exited onto Liberty Street on the south side of the complex.
Clark described how, when they had gotten about two blocks away, his new friend Stan told him he thought the buildings were going to go. Clark was skeptical, repeating how solidly built the towers were, but he did not finish his sentence when Tower Two started to slide down.
Praimnath thanked Clark for saving his life. But Clark, in turn, also thanked Praimnath since he felt that the act of going and freeing Praimnath drew him out of a debate that might have ended with him joining the others who went up to their deaths. Ron DiFrancesco, who had initially turned around because of the smoke, mustered the strength to resume the descent, and was one of the last people to escape the South tower before its collapse. All told, they were among only four people who managed to escape from above the impact zone in Tower 2. Richard Fern, also of Euro Brokers, was the fourth. An additional fourteen escaped from the impact zone itself, mostly from the upper sky lobby which bore the brunt of the impact and left scores dead.
Sixty-one of Clark's colleagues were killed in the incident. Clark was later appointed by his company's management to be President of the Euro Brokers Relief Fund, created to help take financial care of the families of those who were lost.
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(Between 9:10 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001: South Tower Employee Sees No Inferno on 78th Floor
Brian Clark. [Source: CTV] Brian Clark, the executive vice president of brokerage firm Euro Brokers, was on the 84th floor of the South Tower, where his firm’s offices are, when Flight 175 crashed into it. He had headed out, going down Stairway A, which is the only staircase in the tower that remains intact from top to bottom, and was soon joined by Stanley Praimnath, who also works in the South Tower. They reach a point that Clark later guesses to have been around the 77th or 78th floor, where the stairway walls are cracked, allowing them to look through. This would be around the lower end of the floors where the plane impacted. However, Clark sees no large fire. He later says, “[Y]ou could look through the cracks and see flames. They were just quietly licking up, not a roaring inferno. And there was some smoke there, but again I think the stairs were pressurized, pushing the air out so we had less smoke in the stairway than you might imagine.” [BBC, 3/7/2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 5/26/2002; SUN, 9/6/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 5/18/2004] This apparently contradicts later claims that the tower was subjected to “extreme fires” prior to its collapse. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/20/2004] Firefighter Orio Palmer will make it up to this level of the tower later on, and also report only finding small fires there (see 9:52 a.m. September 11, 2001). Clark and Praimnath continue down the stairs and make it out just minutes before the collapse. They are two of only four people who were at or above the impact zone after Flight 175 hit, who are able to escape from the South Tower. [CNN, 9/9/2002] A further 14 people are able to get out of the building from its 78th floor, which is the lower part of the crash zone. [DWYER AND FLYNN, 2005, PP. 255]
- ↑ Samuel Bruchey (March 31, 2006). "Family hears son's WTC 911 calls". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- ↑ "Raw emotion marks 9/11 commission hearing: Police, fire chiefs grilled by panelists, booed by families". MSNBC. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- ↑ "9/11 Calls Reveal Confusion: Dispatchers on Recordings Seem Unsure How to Instruct People Stranded in Twin Towers". ABC News . April 1, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- ↑ Pam Fessler, Melissa Block (May 18, 2004). "Sept. 11 Panel Focuses on Confusion in New York". All Things Considered,. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- ↑ York, New (August 18, 2002). "Distant voices, still lives, 08:00-09:35". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- ↑ Michael Weissenstein (May 18, 2004). "9/11 Commission Cites Communication Flaws". Associated Press . Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- ↑ "9/11 Commission Cites Communication Flaws Among Rescuers". NewsMax. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
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- ↑ "WTC ROOF DOORS LOCKED Rudy says copter rescue would have been too risky". Daily News (New York). 2001-10-24.
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