Contributor's location on 9/11:
Building 1 of the WTC
Contributor's local union affiliation:
September 17, 2001
Daria Coard was at work in Building 1 of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. She was in an elevator with 30 other people on the 88th floor. Only nine passengers managed to exit the elevator before it fell down the shaft. Daria does not know if the elevator stopped on a lower floor or what might have happened to the others.
'After we got out of the elevator, we went down the stairs. We walked over dead bodies in the stairwell. People died trying to get down the stairs,' Daria said. On the way down the stairs, a stranger handed her identification to Daria, asking that Daria tell the woman's family that she loved them. When finally able to exit the building, there was an explosion that threw Daria under a jeep.
'I was so scared, I didn't want to come out from under the jeep. Things, debris were falling everywhere. I lost it. I was in shock,' Daria said. When a stranger coaxed her out from beneath the vehicle, Daria witnessed images that will stay with her for the rest of her life.
'Bodies were dropping everywhere. Me and someone else saw a shoe under a piece of a car. So we lifted it up. And there was a leg with nothing else attached to it. There were strollers with babies in them turned on their side. I saw a rescue worker with his arm and shoulder blown off. He was screaming and running, and the policemen were trying to stop him to help him. But he was panicked. The blood was coming out of him. I saw so many people jumping or falling out the building. One couple took each other's hands as they jumped. I was in shock. But I knew I had to get out for my kids – my sons and my daughter. Seven hours went by. I can't account for the whole seven hours, but the hours I do remember, I see at night in my sleep. I can't sleep for more than three hours because I can't get it out of my head,' Daria said.
Words cannot describe the depth and complexity of emotions Daria is experiencing. Her sadness is so profound; her anger at the senseless loss of life is so deep. And she is still frightened. 'I'm scared to ride the train. What really scares me now, we're going to war,' Daria said.
'I survived. I don't want my 18- and 19-year-old sons to die in a war. There's been enough killing already.'
Despite the awful reality of the disaster, life does go on. Today is Daria's birthday. 'My mother called me this morning to say that she is so glad she can celebrate my birthday instead of having to bury me today. This is one birthday I'll never forget,' Daria said.
What's next for Daria? How will she pick up the pieces? First, she needs to heal, both physically and emotionally. She is walking with a cane because of the injury to her knee resulting from the explosion. So she will seek workers' compensation until her body mends. While Daria escaped with her life, she lost her livelihood. She does not know when or where she might return to work. And she has begun the process of coming to terms with the trauma of being a survivor. She has sought counseling. And today, she saw many of her coworkers for the first time since the attack. They hugged, cried and remembered those friends among the missing.
Daria Coard ,
Story #55, The September 11 Digital Archive, 17 September 2001, <http://911digitalarchive.org/stories/details/55>.