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Stories of September 11

Contributed by: Gabriel Torres
Contributor's location on 9/11: Building 5 of the WTC
Contributor's local union affiliation:
Contributed on: September 17, 2001

'I heard a big thump – like a construction grate hitting the ground,' said Gabriel Torres, a 29-year-old security person at the World Trade Center. 'All of the sudden, people were running all over. They told us a plane hit one of the towers.'

Gabriel was helping people evacuate when two firefighters asked him to help them navigate through the building to find people in need of assistance. Gabriel took the two men to the underground Path train area. They were in a parking lot beneath building one when the ceiling began to fall.

'We got trapped under the debris. We dug our way out. We just kept digging ‘til we saw light. But then we were stuck,' Gabriel said. The three men called out for help, but had to wait for two hours to be rescued. 'I had a hole in my leg. I could see the bone. My head was hurt. Both my elbows are hurt and scraped. I got four or five stitches on my forehead. I gotta use [a] cane to walk,' Gabriel said.

As he talked about the devastation, Gabriel's face darkened. 'Too much, too much,' he said. 'I was on the phone with my mother right before I went downstairs. I told her to tell my wife I love her. Then I told my mother that I love her. Then I had to go. I didn't know if I would ever see my family again,' Gabriel said.

'Yesterday (9/16) was my son's birthday. He turned two. We baptized him yesterday. We had it planned, so we went ahead and did it. Life goes on.'

Now Gabriel worries about how his family will make ends meet. Gabriel's wife has a job with the school board, but her paycheck falls short of the family's expenses. 'When we lost the buildings, we lost our jobs,' he said.

Cite as: Gabriel Torres , Story #51, The September 11 Digital Archive, 17 September 2001, <>.
Archival Information: 337 words, 1667 characters