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9/11 survivor tells his story

It was a day whose horrific events would be forever seared into the memories of millions. On Sept. 11, 2001, a group of Islamic extremists hijacked U.S. passenger jets and flew them into the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Ten years later, we present eyewitness accounts and survivors' stories from the day that has become known as 9/11.

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Sept. 11, 2001 was just another day at work for Brian Clark, a vice president at a brokerage company with offices in Building 2 at the World Trade Center. Even when he saw flames in the other building, he wasn't too worried -- until a powerful impact rocked his own building and the ceiling collapsed around him. Enveloped in dust, he grabbed a flashlight and made his way to the stairwell with a group of co-workers. But as he explains to CBC-TV's Alison Smith the next day, it was a call for help from a trapped stranger that saved his life.
• According to the newspaper USA Today, Clark (a Canadian by birth) was a fire warden for his company, which meant he was responsible for getting people in his area out and also explains why he had a flashlight handy. Three months after the attacks, he praised the WTC building management for enforcing biannual evacuation drills. "They had done a great job," he said. 'People knew where the stairs were."
  • "Stan," the man Clark helped out of a pile of debris, was Stanley Praimnath, a bank executive who worked on the 81st floor. Seeing the approach of the second airplane, he took shelter under his desk and was the only person on his floor to survive the impact.

• Clark and Prainmeth were two of only a few people in or above the south tower's impact zone (between the 78th and 84th floors) who escaped down the only open stairwell before the building collapsed. Those who went up the stairs rather than down did not survive because the doors to the roof were locked and a helicopter rescue was impossible to due to smoke.

• After the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, building management spent $90 million to improve evacuation rates. They painted stairwells with reflective paint, made stairwell lights battery-powered, boosted the buildings' backup power source, put fire command posts in both buildings and introduced mandatory evacuation drills.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Sept. 12, 2001
Guest(s): Brian Clark
Reporter: Alison Smith
Duration: 10:14
This clip was edited for copyright reasons.

Last updated: September 12, 2014

Page consulted on September 12, 2014

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