During the September 11 terror attacks, Pasquale Buzzelli was at work on the 64th floor of the North Tower. Here’s his incredible story of survival after falling 22 floors.
September 11, 2001, started out as just another typical Tuesday for Pasquale Buzzelli. He headed to the North Tower at the World Trade Center where he worked as a structural engineer on the 64th floor.
Though he was running a little late that morning, everything was business as usual when Pasquale arrived at the Twin Towers. However, what happened in the following moments would change his life, and our Nation’s history, forever.
Trapped In The Twin Towers During The September 11 Terror Attacks
Pasquale Buzzelli stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the 64th floor, just as he’d done so many times before. However, just as he reached the 64th floor, the elevator shook violently and stopped. The lights flickered and then the car immediately descended back to the 44th floor.
When the doors opened, Pasquale described the scene as complete mayhem. People were screaming and running around and heavy smoke made it difficult to see much. Shock set in and without thinking much about it, Pasquale retreated back into the elevator and hit the button for 64.
This time, the elevator stopped on the 64th floor as usual. And when Pasquale Buzzelli stepped into the office, he found about 15 coworkers remained there. No one knew quite what was going on, but security had instructed them to stay put in order to keep the stairwells free for firefighters.
Pasquale went to his desk and called his 7-months-pregnant wife, Louise. He asked her to turn on the TV to see if she could figure out what was happening. And that’s when he first learned he was trapped in the Twin Towers during the September 11 terror attacks.
Covered In Prayer
After informing Pasquale of the situation, Louise urged him to get out of the building. They hung up and she turned to a cross hanging on the wall in their home.
“God Jesus, please just be with him right now,” she recalls praying.
Louise then grabbed the crucifix and kept it with her the whole day, praying for God to bring her husband home safely.
Meanwhile, Pasquale and his coworkers waited on the 64th until they started seeing smoke coming into their office. So, they decided to leave.
They all headed to the stairwell and began their descent. Things were going smoothly until they hit the 22nd floor. At that point, things began to rumble and they could hear things falling from above. Pasquale Buzzelli instinctually jumped into the corner of the stairwell and curled into a ball.
Just moments later, Pasquale felt the wall give way.
"I felt the walls next to me crack and buckle on top of me," he said.
Then, he started falling. And in those seconds, he remembers praying for his family.
WATCH: Pasquale Buzzelli Shares His Story From 9/11
WARNING: The emotional video does contain some profanity.
The full interview with Pasquale Buzzelli can be found HERE.
Miraculously Surviving The September 11 Terror Attacks
Some hours later, Pasquale Buzzelli awoke on a concrete slab atop a huge pile of rubble. Smoke and dust filled the air and he pulled his shirt over his face to help him breathe. Explosions went off all around him and fires raged.
Soon, a firefighter appeared, and finding Pasquale alive amidst all the rubble astonished him. The firefighters got Pasquale to safety.
Miraculously, Pasquale Buzzelli returned home to his wife that evening. He suffered a fractured foot but was otherwise fine after falling 20 stories. And as he watched replays of the September 11 terror attacks, Pasquale couldn’t believe he’d made it out alive.
“When I was sitting in the rubble, I thought perhaps part of the building collapsed and toppled away from me and that’s why I survived,” he explained. “When I actually saw it fall straight down and I was in that concentration of forces and that…whatever happened in the middle… it’s more miraculous to me that I was able to survive.”
A Journey Toward Healing
Pasquale’s physical injuries healed fairly quickly. However, the emotional toll of the terror attacks weighed heavily on his mind and heart for far longer. He wrestled to make sense of why he survived when so many others did not. And that guilt haunted Pasquale Buzzelli for a long time, interfering with his ability to enjoy the gift of life he’d been given.
“When you start to think about the numbers, it doesn't really seem possible that I'm alive," Pasquale said.
There’s no explanation of how Pasquale Buzzelli survived. It is reported that only 20 people total emerged from the World Trade Center alive on the day of the September 11 terror attacks. But Michael Morabito, one of the firefighters who helped rescue Pasquale from the rubble, knows divine intervention is the only explanation for a survival that is otherwise impossible.
“It’s gotta be a miracle,” Michael said. “Someone was watching over him. He needed to make it home.”
WATCH: Firefighter Recalls Finding Pasquale Buzzelli After September 11 Terror Attacks
Pasquale Buzzelli eventually started getting help in processing the trauma he’d experienced. And he finally came to the realization that the best way to honor those who’d died was by living his life to the fullest, making the most of the gift he’d been given. And that’s what he’s been doing since that fateful.
None of us will ever forget the September 11 terror attacks. And it’s hard to remember that day without also reliving the agony and anguish. However, it’s important we remember the miracles, too — the unity and resiliency that arose in the midst of such despair.
Let us continue to pray for our country and all the people who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.