Skip to comments.The tower 'jumpers' were murdered
Posted on 09/08/2002 7:16:48 AM PDT by aculeus
ACCORDING to the New York Medical Examiner's Office, no one jumped from the hellish towers on that awful September day in Lower Manhattan. This despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Evidence like grotesque photos and video shots of the trapped victims jumping from the smoke-billowing, flame-ravished upper storeys of the 1,400ft buildings. Like the testimony of horrified spectators. Like the mangled bodies which spattered the large plaza between South and North Towers. Like the bodies which were found on the roof of the 22-storey Marriott Hotel, and the bodies which crashed through the VIP driveway awning on Tower 1's west side. Like the fact that at least one of the jumpers killed rescue personnel and/ or bystanders. Like the fact that an investigation by USA Today and ABC News revealed that more than 200 people jumped to their certain death.
But there are compelling reasons for the Medical Examiner's reluctance to classify the victims as "jumpers". "Jumper" is a term used to classify someone who deliberately and knowing plunges off a building to certain death. That's suicide. The 200 or so individuals who made the horrendous decision to jump on the morning of September 11 were forced to do so by fire, the smoke, the heat, the inexorable inevitability of death. In effect they did not jump. They were pushed. Homicide.
Suicide carries a taboo; the bereaved were entitled to protection from distressing images of their loved ones.
There was also a political consideration. In steeling America for the counter-terrorism war against Al Qa'ida, the victim numbers counted. There were 2,823 early and cruel deaths, 1,300 orphans and countless suicides arising from post-traumatic stress.
Many images haunted spectators and survivors. Images like the dust-lady (Marcy Border) staggering away, that of fireman Mike Kehoe rushing up the stairwell, but the image that has etched itself into the Western mind is of the people trapped above or near the impact points on the two towers. Of those working above the 84th floor on the South Tower, only 16 survived. (They had evacuated in the 16 minutes between the two air-strikes.) Of those on or above floor 91 on North Tower (impact 94th to 98th floors), no one survived. It was these people trapped in the upper reaches of the towering infernos who were left with the pitiful choice between the devilish flames and the sky.
The bereaved are individuals, not a category. They all react differently. One 12-year-old who lost her dad still watches only the Food Channel because it's the only channel guaranteed not to show images from September 11.
But others like Jean Coleman, who lost two sons, employees of Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor have scoured all the photos, amateur video clips and TV footage to try to identify their relatives and figure out their states of mind.
The picture that has emerged from last phone calls, photographic evidence, emails and the 16 South Tower evacuees is truly terrifying, but also inspiring. There was panic, but most strove to survive, helped others, and many stoically accepted their fate and phoned love-messages to their loved ones. Urgent phone calls were made to the lobby fire control. The advice was to stay put. Some tried to evacuate via stairwells. All were driven back by the flames and smoke.
Others tried to make their way up to the roof, hoping for a helicopter rescue, but the roof exit doors were shut and a helicopter rescue was ruled out by emergency services.
Others phoned to tell relatives they were OK or to find out what had happened. Steve Tomsett on the 106th floor used his computer to ask his family, who were watching TV, for "updates". Shortly after, as the smoke and intense heat reached his floor, he emailed simply, "I'm scared."
Others trapped on the North Tower used their computers to break the windows, gasping for air and leaning out, looking for respite and rescue. Some peeled off their tops and waved them despairingly. Others made the awful decision and jumped.
They jumped singly, in pairs, in groups. Their bodies hurtling down at 140mph. From below they looked at first like debris. Then onlookers realised that they were humans. Some of them retched.
Those trapped in the South Tower were caught between a primal urge to flee and official advice that their building was "secure". But when some, like Andrecia Douglin-Traill on the 92nd floor, saw the North Tower jumpers, they decided to run. She was saved.
Indeed, many of the successful evacuees from the top floors of the South Tower testified later that it was the ghoulish sight of the jumpers which convinced them to flee.
For Jean Coleman it was important to track down her sons she found them in a photo which appeared in the New York Times. The two boys, Scott and Keith, were hanging out of adjacent windows. She felt the photo showed they were "relatively" serene. You see what you want to see. And you get closure.
Most people in America never wanted to see the pictures of the trapped people and non-jumpers. The images burned a passionate resentment into the soul.
The New York medical examiner's office says it does not classify the people who fell to their deaths on Sept. 11 as "jumpers."
"A 'jumper' is somebody who goes to the office in the morning knowing that they will commit suicide," says Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. "These people were forced out by the smoke and flames or blown out."
Read it again.
As far as the article is concerned, I have no problems with it, it was merely showing how the Coroner's Office makes an intelligent interpetation of how circumstances change perception of actions. It is neither ghoulish or improper in my opinion.
Kelly Reyher worked on the 100th floor of the South Tower. He survived despite being on 78th floor, in an elevator, at moment the second plane hit. He is one of 18 people known to have escaped from at or above the impact zone in the South Tower:
"So we ran to the window and that's when, we didn't know what happened but it was catastrophic. And you just froze for a second watching the flames come out. And then people started to fall out of the hole in the east side of the building. And what it looked like was it looked like that they were blinded by the smoke and couldn't breathe because their like hands were over their faces. They would just walk to the edge where the jagged floor was and just fall out. So I think that they were completely confused about where they were and what had just happened.''
I dreamed I was in a strange bookstore, and I was looking on the shelves when I suddenly came across a book I'd been looking for for years .(This was before I was online and knew about sites like abebooks.com. Nowadays, if I remember a book I'd like to read or reread, I can find multiple copies of even the rarest, most obscure book. But I digress...)The book was The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore, which was published in the 1930s. So I woke up, and thought nothing of it. I certainly had no plans to go to a bookstore that day, strange or familiar. But that morning, my DH asked if I wanted to go along while he went to a little town where he had some business to deal with ; I saw a used bookstore there, after he was done we stopped there and...Yep, it was there. Werewolf of Paris, in a paperback reprint from the 1970s.
That's the kind of useless precog dreams I get. Cassandra, eat your heart out.
I can certainly understand how many of these victims chose to jump rather than succumb to the fiery inferno raging below them. Being burned alive is one of the most painful things I can imagine.
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