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Revealed: The Falling Man of 9/11
Mirror ^ | March 15, 2006 | David Edwards

Posted on 03/15/2006 8:18:01 AM PST by West Coast Conservative

IT is one of the most chilling images to emerge from the horror that has become, simply, 9/11. Against the steel-and-glass background of the World Trade Center, a man falls headlong 1,300ft to the street below.

While pictures of the Twin Towers billowing smoke and flames will remain the most enduring image of the terrorist attacks, this one man's dying moments somehow humanise the toll of New York's darkest day.

And yet, as famous as the image is, the man's identity has remained a mystery. Until now.

Five years after the horror of September 11, 2001, the falling man has finally been identified as Jonathan Briley, a 43-year-old who worked in a restaurant at the top of the north tower.

Over the years, his family has always assumed he perished in the building. Now, learning he had jumped is almost too much to bear.

His father, Alexander, a Baptist minister, has still not come to terms with the manner of his son's dying. "I can't talk about it," he says. "My life's work is telling people that they have to go on after tragedy, but I can't do it for myself."

Jonathan's elder sister, Gwendolyn, says: "When I first looked at the picture... and I saw it was a man - tall, slim - I said, 'If I didn't know any better, that could be Jonathan'.

"I never thought of the Falling Man as Jonathan. I thought of him as a man that just took his life in his hands for just one second.

"Did that person have so much faith that he knew that God would catch him - or was he so afraid to experience the end?"

On the day he died, Jonathan had kissed his wife Hillary goodbye before making the 20-mile journey from his home in Mount Vernon to Manhattan where he worked in the Windows On The World restaurant as a sound engineer.

That morning, the restaurant was holding a breakfast for 16 members of the Waters Financial Technology Congress, and 71 other guests.

At 8.45am, less than an hour after Jonathan arrived for work, American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north tower.

The impact sliced through floors 93 to 99, killing hundreds, immediately creating a 1,000C inferno as the plane's fuel ignited.

The fireball was so intense that people in the building's lobby were burned as the flames shot down the lift shafts.

But it was the 1,000 people trapped on floors 100 to 107 who were unluckiest. With the lift shafts severed and staircases blocked by rubble, fire and choking smoke, there was no escape.

With the air becoming unbreath-able, desperate staff and diners began smashing windows. And it was in those final moments that Jonathan, an asthmatic, must have made his dreadful decision...

If we don't know what went through Jonathan's mind then, we do know the last desperate thoughts of others who decided they would take fate into their own hands.

Eighteen minutes after the first plane struck, the second plane hit the south tower, trapping another 600 people.

Mother-of-two Alayne Gentul, 44, a senior vice-president of the Fiduciary Trust, was among them, and in her last few moments she called her husband, Jack.

"She told me smoke was coming in the room, coming through the vents," Jack Gentul says.

"Her breath was laboured. I asked her why she didn't go down and she said it was really hot out there. She said to me 'I'm scared'. She wasn't a person who got scared, and I said, 'Honey, it'll be all right, it'll be all right, you'll get down.'

"She said she loved me and said to tell the boys she loved them. I was so shocked I said, 'Of course I will, but it's going to be all right.' When I hung up the phone I was horrified." It was the last time the couple ever spoke.

"She was found on the street in front of the building across from hers," says Jack. "Whether she jumped or fell, I don't know. I hoped that she had succumbed to the smoke, but it doesn't seem likely.

"In some ways it might just be the last element of control... something you can do. To be out of the smoke and the heat, to be out in the air, it must have felt like flying."

Official estimates of how many people leapt from the buildings vary from 50 to 200.

US writer Tom Junod says: "Between seven and eight per cent of those who died in New York City on September 11, 2001, died by jumping out of the buildings.

"If we consider only the north tower, where the vast majority of jumpers came from, the ratio is one in six." Photographer Richard Drew, 54, had trained his I lens on the north tower and begun filming the jumpers. "You could hear them," he says. "It was a big thud, like the sound of sacks of cement hitting the ground."

When he returned to the Associated Press bureau, a sequence of 12 shots stood out.

THEY caught a man, seemingly calm, plunging to his inevitable death.

The picture was published around the world, causing widespread revulsion, as if merely looking at them was to intrude upon a moment of private agony. After September 12, the picture was rarely shown again, but Tom Junod couldn't get the image out of his head and spent years trying to discover the identity of the Falling Man.

It was executive chef Michael Lomonaco who finally solved the mystery.

"Jonathan fitted the body type, the skin colour, and it left the door open for a possibility that it was really Jonathan," Lomonaco says.

Jonathan's father is still too upset to speak about his son but his sister, Gwendolyn, is ready to talk.

"Jonathan was a person who just loved life and it was contagious so that when we were around him, you couldn't help smiling and laughing." Nobody will ever know for sure if Jonathan was the Falling Man, although the evidence makes it highly likely.

In one of the pictures, his white shirt is blown away by the wind to reveal an orange T-shirt - identical to the one he wore to work.

But as Gwendolyn says: "It's not about trying to find out who he is, but what his death says to all of us." And what it says is ... never again.


TOPICS: Front Page News; Miscellaneous; US: New York; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 2001; 911; 911victims; aclintonlegacy; alqaeda; neverforget; newyorkcity; september11; terrorism; thefallingman; worldtradecenter; wtc
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Jonathan Briley, who died in tower fall
1 posted on 03/15/2006 8:18:07 AM PST by West Coast Conservative
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To: West Coast Conservative

Prayers for his family,

but what is a "sound engineer"?
Is it what I think it is?


2 posted on 03/15/2006 8:20:27 AM PST by SJSAMPLE
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To: West Coast Conservative

God did catch him, he's home now.


3 posted on 03/15/2006 8:21:10 AM PST by 359Henrie (NASA needs one more moon rock, its in Mecca.)
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To: West Coast Conservative
And muslims danced in the streets and rejoiced...
4 posted on 03/15/2006 8:21:40 AM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - They want to die for Islam, and we want to kill them.)
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To: West Coast Conservative
Democrats in unison.....

SO WHAT!!

5 posted on 03/15/2006 8:22:42 AM PST by CROSSHIGHWAYMAN (Toon Town, Iran...........where reality is the real fantasy.)
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To: SJSAMPLE

My son is a sound engineer. He usually runs sound for live bands at a club, but they also do sound recording etc.
susie


6 posted on 03/15/2006 8:23:59 AM PST by brytlea (I'm not a conspiracy theorist....really.)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: 2banana

Their day has yet to come.


8 posted on 03/15/2006 8:27:54 AM PST by johnny7 (“Iuventus stultorum magister”)
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To: CROSSHIGHWAYMAN
Democrats in unison..... SO WHAT!!

Somebody made a post earlier today that said, we must forget about 9/11.

9 posted on 03/15/2006 8:28:08 AM PST by GWB00 (Barbara Streisand barely made it out of high school.)
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To: West Coast Conservative

this kind of thing still makes me cry. And yet part of me can hardly believe it happened. 6-7% jumped? I cannot believe we weer never told the magnitude of how many people jumped.


10 posted on 03/15/2006 8:28:49 AM PST by lawgirl (Cake is a powerful food!)
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To: West Coast Conservative

All those libs with short attention spans should be made to sit down every few months and view images from 9/11 and have it explained to them why we are fighting al queda.


11 posted on 03/15/2006 8:29:18 AM PST by The Sons of Liberty (Former SAC Trained Killer)
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To: West Coast Conservative

Everything I ever needed to know about Islam I learned on 9/11.


12 posted on 03/15/2006 8:29:50 AM PST by trubluolyguy (Religion of Peace or Cult of Death? How much evidence exists for either one?)
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To: West Coast Conservative
It was very difficult to get through this article, but I'm glad at least someone is talking about it.

Astounding how the MSM can relish in Abhu Ghraib images like hogs at a trough, but images of the terrorist acts of 9/11 are "too much" for our delicate sensibilities.

NEVER FORGET

13 posted on 03/15/2006 8:30:05 AM PST by Sisku Hanne (Happy 2006...The Year of the Black Conservative!)
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To: bobbdobbs

No, just a long way down and a damned hard choice for someone to have decide to do.

May the rest in peace and may their murderers come back in their next life as pigs.


14 posted on 03/15/2006 8:30:26 AM PST by misterrob (Islam is a hate crime)
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To: GWB00

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDh_pvv1tUM&search=9-11


15 posted on 03/15/2006 8:31:02 AM PST by digger48
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To: Sisku Hanne

and we worry about terrorists rights? when will we level these evil doers?


16 posted on 03/15/2006 8:31:07 AM PST by Blue Turtle
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To: West Coast Conservative

A year or more ago, Esquire magazine did a fascinating article on this man, unknown at the time, and published the sequence of pictures that the famous image was taken from.

For people interested, the book "102 Minutes" is an absorbing account of what transpired in the towers between the first hit and the second collapse.

May God help the Falling Man's family reconcile themselves to the manner of his death.


17 posted on 03/15/2006 8:31:42 AM PST by andonte
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To: West Coast Conservative

A year or more ago, Esquire magazine did a fascinating article on this man, unknown at the time, and published the sequence of pictures that the famous image was taken from.

For people interested, the book "102 Minutes" is an absorbing account of what transpired in the towers between the first hit and the second collapse.

May God help the Falling Man's family reconcile themselves to the manner of his death.


18 posted on 03/15/2006 8:31:48 AM PST by andonte
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To: West Coast Conservative

If you can watch it...see post 15


19 posted on 03/15/2006 8:31:48 AM PST by digger48
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To: West Coast Conservative

The liberal media have printed and reprinted the Abu Ghraib photos, but most of them have forgotten all about 9/11. They played down the photographs at the time, because they didn't want to get anyone mad about the Muslims who attacked us.


20 posted on 03/15/2006 8:33:55 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: bobbdobbs
Hmm, jump or be burned to death. Not exactly a tough choice. Burning is very painful. Jumping doesn't hurt a bit.

In the middle ages the Pope ruled that jumping from a burning tower wasn't suicide.

21 posted on 03/15/2006 8:34:30 AM PST by null and void (Sept 11th: National Moderate Muslim Day of Tacit Approval)
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To: West Coast Conservative

Someone please post the picture.


22 posted on 03/15/2006 8:34:48 AM PST by GianniV
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To: West Coast Conservative
Never forget

The husband of a former co-worker of my wife perished that day in the North Tower. About six months later, two small fragments of bone were identified as his using DNA samples provided by their children. It was all she had to bury.

23 posted on 03/15/2006 8:34:49 AM PST by IndyTiger
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To: West Coast Conservative

I've never forgotten this image, it literally makes me sick to my stomach.

I only wish people would not forget this.


24 posted on 03/15/2006 8:35:10 AM PST by AUJenn
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To: West Coast Conservative
NEVER FORGET
25 posted on 03/15/2006 8:36:11 AM PST by FReepaholic (If ignorance ain't bliss, I don't know what is.)
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To: West Coast Conservative

We haven't forgotten, Jonathan. We will never forget.


26 posted on 03/15/2006 8:37:23 AM PST by Bahbah (An admitted Snow Flake)
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To: andonte

:(


27 posted on 03/15/2006 8:37:25 AM PST by angcat
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To: trubluolyguy

That should be a book title. Of course, protestors might storm the US embassy if an American wrote this book.


28 posted on 03/15/2006 8:37:47 AM PST by ilgipper
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To: ilgipper

That should be a book title. Of course, protestors might storm the US embassy if an American wrote this book.




I've been known to turn a phrase now and again, maybe I ought to get busy.


29 posted on 03/15/2006 8:39:14 AM PST by trubluolyguy (Religion of Peace or Cult of Death? How much evidence exists for either one?)
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To: West Coast Conservative

The thing that most disturbed me about 9/11 was all of those poor people that had to make the choice of burning to death or jumping to their death. What an awful choice to have to make. Pope John Paul II even came forth and granted dispensation to those who were faced with that awful choice and jumped. Jonathan Briley and the others who died that day and their surviving families are in my prayers.


30 posted on 03/15/2006 8:39:33 AM PST by rochester_veteran (born and raised in rachacha!)
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To: The Sons of Liberty
All those libs with short attention spans should be made to sit down every few months and view images from 9/11 and have it explained to them why we are fighting al queda.

There are some conservatives with short attention spans that can use a little reminder from time to time as well.

31 posted on 03/15/2006 8:40:20 AM PST by magslinger (Pray for your enemies, It's like taking a B52 to a gun fight.)
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To: West Coast Conservative
Wow... Reading this and thinking about 9/11 still brings tears.

May God bless the families of each and every victim, regardless of how the end came.

32 posted on 03/15/2006 8:42:00 AM PST by TChris ("Wake up, America. This is serious." - Ben Stein)
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To: magslinger

..ain't that the truth. Our politicians are driven by ego and personal gain.


33 posted on 03/15/2006 8:42:23 AM PST by Blue Turtle
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To: West Coast Conservative

Perhaps one of the most articulate and heart wrenching tributes to The Falling Man ever written...

http://www.esquire.com/features/articles/2003/030903_mfe_falling_1.html


34 posted on 03/15/2006 8:42:32 AM PST by Fighting Irish
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To: Blue Turtle

one more thing....we could win this war today if we had the guts.


35 posted on 03/15/2006 8:43:07 AM PST by Blue Turtle
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To: rochester_veteran
Pope John Paul II even came forth and granted dispensation to those who were faced with that awful choice and jumped.

Now I need a tissue...

36 posted on 03/15/2006 8:44:30 AM PST by Sisku Hanne (Happy 2006...The Year of the Black Conservative!)
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To: bobbdobbs

Excuse my ignorance, but why doesn't it hurt? Is a person who falls that far dead before they hit the pavement?


37 posted on 03/15/2006 8:44:56 AM PST by carton253 (Al-Qa'eda are not the Viet Cong. If you exit, they'll follow. And Americans will die...)
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To: digger48
The visuals on that video need to be shown again and again; but what's the deal with the teenybopper female singing? Puh-leeze.

The voices of our president, and the news reports from that awful day are more than sufficient. Putting that bubble-gum-chewer on as a voice-over is an abomination.

38 posted on 03/15/2006 8:45:46 AM PST by shhrubbery! (Max Boot: Joe Wilson has sold more whoppers than Burger King)
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To: West Coast Conservative

And Senator Feingold's biggest concern is finding a way to censure the President over the NSA eavesdropping on phone calls to terrorists to try and prevent another 9/11.


39 posted on 03/15/2006 8:46:52 AM PST by 6SJ7
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To: digger48

Very moving.

NEVER FORGET


40 posted on 03/15/2006 8:47:01 AM PST by cvq3842
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To: West Coast Conservative

Tears in my eyes as I read this moving story. Prayers offered up for the families of the fallen, that they may find peace.


41 posted on 03/15/2006 8:47:32 AM PST by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
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To: rightwingintelligentsia

Never again!


42 posted on 03/15/2006 8:48:18 AM PST by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
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To: digger48

That video's a good reminder. Thanks.


43 posted on 03/15/2006 8:49:48 AM PST by American Quilter
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To: Sisku Hanne

"Now I need a tissue..."

Every time I read and remember 9/11 it is like re-opening a wound that just will never heal. Fresh tears fall. I will NEVER FORGET.


44 posted on 03/15/2006 8:52:52 AM PST by Sweetjustusnow ("You're either with us or with the terrorists." Time to live up to that statement Mr. President.)
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To: null and void
I read that the death certificates of the Tower victims stated "murder" as the cause of death, because even those who jumped or fell as the heat and flames behind them became too intense, could not be considered "suicides". They were in that position because fanatics attempted to cause them bodily harm, "murder" them.

There's always the possibility that many fell out of the windows by accident, since the air was becoming unbreathable and they leaned further out those windows for air.

45 posted on 03/15/2006 8:53:04 AM PST by Ciexyz (Let us always remember, the Lord is in control.)
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To: West Coast Conservative

In spite of the best efforts of MSM and the Liberal Establishment, I will never, never, never forget the atrocities of 911 and I will always remember my 3,000 brothers and sisters who died that day, martyrs to freedom.


46 posted on 03/15/2006 8:54:47 AM PST by NaughtiusMaximus (DO NOT read to the end of this tagline . . . Oh, $#@%^, there you went and did it.)
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To: SJSAMPLE

47 posted on 03/15/2006 8:56:23 AM PST by Grim
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To: FReepaholic
I was going to post that link too. It should be required daily viewing.
The music by Enya however is an earworm for me.
48 posted on 03/15/2006 8:56:37 AM PST by ASA Vet (Those who talk don't know, those who know don't talk.)
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To: Ciexyz

May God continue to comfort the families of all who perished.


49 posted on 03/15/2006 8:56:37 AM PST by rightwingintelligentsia (You know a liberal has lost the argument when he calls you a Nazi.)
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To: FReepaholic; digger48
Thank you both for posting these links, which I watched and bookmarked for my kids to watch.

We must never forget.

50 posted on 03/15/2006 8:56:37 AM PST by MarMema (Buy Danish, support freedom)
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