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9/11 World Trade Center Jumpers



USA TODAY estimates that at least 200 people jumped to their deaths that morning, far more than can be seen in the photographs taken that
morning. Nearly all were from the north tower, which was hit first and collapsed last. Fewer than a dozen were from the south tower.

The jumping started shortly after the first jet hit at 8:46 a.m. People jumped continuously during the 102 minutes that the north tower stood.
Two people jumped as the north tower began to fall at 10:28 a.m. witnesses said.

For those who jumped, the fall lasted 10 seconds. They struck the ground at just less than 150 miles per hour — not fast
enough to cause unconsciousness while falling, but fast enough to ensure instant death on impact.
People jumped from all four sides of the north tower. They jumped alone, in pairs and in groups.

Intense smoke and heat, rather than flames, pushed people into this horrific choice.
Flight 11 struck the 94th through 98th floors of the north tower, shooting heat and smoke up elevator shafts and stairways in the center
of the building. Within minutes, it would have been very difficult to breathe.

The first jumper is recorded plunging from the North Tower’s 149th window of the 93rd floor on the north face of the building at 8.51am, just over four minutes after it was hit by the first hijacked Boeing 757 between the 93rd and 99th floors.

Sometimes the fallers were separated by an interval of just a second. At one point nine people fell in six seconds from five adjacent windows; at another, 13 people fell in two minutes. Twenty minutes after the building was struck, two people fell simultaneously from the same window on the 95th floor.

At least four jumpers tried to climb to other windows for safety then lost their grip. One person climbed from the 93rd floor to the 92nd, clinging to the window’s edge before falling just one second after someone else plumetted from the same window — number 215 on the east face of the tower.

The early jumpers came from the crash zone where the plane entered the building — the offices of the insurance brokers Marsh & McLennan.

The last jumper fell just as the North Tower collapsed 102 minutes after the building had been hit. Photographer Richard Drew says he has a picture of this person clinging to some debris while falling.

What drove some to jump and others to remain? Those who were in the South Tower, just 120ft away, at the time — and managed to escape — had the clearest view and may provide the best insight.

Kelly Reyher watched from the South Tower’s 78th floor as people started to fall out of ‘the hole’ the aircraft had ripped in the North Tower. To him, they looked ‘completely confused’ rather than consciously deciding to end it all.

‘It looked like they were blinded by smoke and couldn’t breathe because their hands were over their faces,’ he says. ‘They would just walk to the edge where the jagged floor was and just fall out.’

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Six floors below Mr Reyher, James Logozzo watched with stunned colleagues from the Morgan Stanley boardroom. He recalled that it took three or four jumpers to flash past him before he realised they were people. Then a woman fell, lying flat on her back and staring upwards. ‘The look on her face was shock. She wasn’t screaming,’ he recalled. ‘It was slow motion. After she hit the ground, there was nothing left.’

For those down below, the bodies landed with sickening, almost explosive thuds. Many said it was raining bodies.

One fireman, Danny Suhr, was killed as he made his way to the South Tower after a jumper landed on him, ‘coming out of the sky like a torpedo’ and breaking his neck. Compounding the tragedy, the priest who gave him the last rites was later killed by falling debris.

When she learnt how Danny died, his childhood sweetheart Nancy thought: how horrendous for that poor person who had to choose to jump; at least Danny did not have to make that choice. At least she had a body, for Danny’s colleagues took him to hospital after he was hit.

It was a decision that saved their lives — they would otherwise have been in the tower when it collapsed.

Firefighter Maureen McArdle-Schulman says she felt like she was intruding on a sacrament as the bodies fell. She adds: ‘They were choosing to die and I was watching them and shouldn’t have been. So me and another guy turned away and looked at a wall and we could still hear them hit.’ Small | Large



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