Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

September 11th: The Port Authority Police Department Story

The Horror Begins

Burning jet fuel rushing down elevator shafts from the point of impact on the 81st floor sent a monstrous fireball in their direction.  McLoughlin shouted for his men to run to the freight elevators.  As they fled, the ceiling gave way and the concourse above crashed down on them, dispersing the fireball.

Officer Antonio Rodrigues
Officer Antonio Rodrigues

The damage was beyond belief, yet some of the lights were still working, and Jimeno could clearly see the destruction all around him.  He was on his back, surrounded by debris, his left leg trapped under a slab of concrete.  His friend Dominick Pezzulo was face down next to him, covered with plaster dust and chunks of ceiling, but he was alive.  Jimeno looked around for the others, calling out to them.  Sergeant McLoughlin responded, saying that he was pinned down as well.  Jimeno couldn't see him, but he estimated from the sound of McLoughlin's voice that he was about 20 feet away.  Jimeno called out to Officers Amoroso and Rodrigues, but neither responded.  He shouted their names for a full two minutes.  Amoroso and Rodrigues had been at the back of the pack as they ran from the fireball.

Officer Dominick Pezzulo
Officer Dominick Pezzulo

Pezzulo, who lifted weights to stay fit, told Jimeno that he was all right and started to dig himself out.  When he finally got to his feet, he assured Jimeno that he would get him out.  But then a deafening rumble drowned out his words and everything started to shake violently.  The two men couldn't see it, but the South Tower was collapsing.  Instinctively Jimeno tried to curl up and protect himself, but there was little time to react and, for Pezzulo, no clear course of escape.  New chunks of concrete rained down, and a heavy concrete slab the size of a mattress landed in Pezzulo's lap. 

The dust was thick, clogging the air.  Jimeno was coughing, his eyes tearing as he tried to get oriented.

"Dominick!" he called out.  "Dominick!"

But then it started all over again.  Twenty-nine minutes after the South Tower fell, the North Tower started to collapse.

Jimeno was desperate to get to his friend, but he couldn't move.  When the noise finally subsided, McLoughlin reported that nothing new had hit him, but that he was still trapped.   Jimeno could hear Pezzulo's labored breathing.

"You okay?" he said to his friend.  "Dominick?  Talk to me."

"Willy," Pezzulo said, struggling to get the words out. "Willy, I'm hurt bad."

 

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