9/11 Stories

Keith McCormack

I’m a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Police Officer that works at the Verrazano bridge. Monday night(9/10) myself and a few other off duty cops went out to the local bar after work at 11:30 pm. My friend dropped me off at my Staten Island apartment around 4:30 after my long nite of partying. I’m usually a deep sleeper but about four and a half hours later i was woken by my answering mach. First my mother in a panic saying were being bombed and that she cant get my father or brother on the phone. I will never as long as I live forget the panic and devastation in her voice. Just as she hung up and before i could call her back my phone rang again. My fiance called to tell me to put on the news that we were under attack. Now I’m still thinking im either drunk or dreaming so after my line went dead i finally put on the TV. I still cant believe i saw what i saw.

I raced to get my clothes and my off-duty gun. I had to get my fiance out of work and get to my mothers. Since i had no real grasp of the situation I feared it would be the last time I might see any one.

As i got in my car i put on 1010 wins and couldn't believe what i was hearing. Th e pentagon has just been hit and they even said “america is under attack!”.

I hit the ATM first then got to my fiance. I was just about to Hylan Blvd.(if your from S.I.) and i saw the large plume of smoke. They announced that the first Tower was gone. I thought with it So was my father. I envisioned it toppling over sideways taking with it the surrounding neighborhood.

Still I had to get to moms, she has very little knowledge of where things are in Manhattan and I feared she would have a heart attack worrying about dad and my brother.

On the way there I still had cell service so I called my lieutenant at the Verrazano to tell him i had to locate my family but will come in off-duty to help.

By the time i got to my mothers she was a wreck. she was convinced my father and brother were dead, and i did my best to reassure her they weren’t but by this point i wasn’t even sure. I finally saw the replay of the first tower to come down and was almost relieved that it pancaked as it surely saved countless lives. My thoughts immediately shifted to the thousand s of lives that were already destroyed including those of my “brothers” who were there to rescue people. Finally my father managed to call us . he was o.k. but couldn't leave his building. he said it was like nite time out there. Suddenly the line went dead and i saw on tv what I thought was another replay of the first collapse. It wasn’t. My heart sank. There was no way anyone at this point would survive. The cloud of dust alone i thought would kill them.

An hour past now, and I couldn’t come to terms with anything anymore. My brother finally got in touch to say that he’s alright and trying to get home to S.I. I couldn't tell him that we hadn’t heard from dad. I didn’t know how.

At about 2:30 i was standing outside of moms house having what had to be my 30th cigarette watching the plume of smoke heading towards brooklyn. Out of the corner of my eye i spotted someone coming up the street. I kept thinking what the hell is that guy wearing an all grey sweatsuit? As he walked closer i could almost make out the minor league baseball shirt and i started laughing nervously. My father covered in dust and all made it home. I haven’t hugged the man in a while but it was the greatest hug i’ve gotten in a life time. I should of known all along. See my dad is a retired cop. Cops don't give up and die they go down hard and he was as hard as brick.

Soon after my brother made it home. It was time to go to work and eventually to ground zero. At work we already knew that Rescue 5 had tremendous losses. That hit us real hard. They came on bridge for many emergency situations and we couldn't fathom not having them with us anymore.

My fiance called to tell me about a dozen or so cops and firemen that we knew that were all gone. I returned home after about four hours as I lost someone very close to me.

Oddly, I hadn’t cried at all the first day. Through the attacks I remained calm, while family members were thought dead i was calm, at the bridge preparing for another attack i was calm, sept.12 at ground zero i was calm, and hearing the news of my friends passing i was calm. That nite i couldn't sleep so i woke up to watch the news to see how recovery was going and they did a quick memorial with images of that fateful day and I broke down and cried so hard, not for myself or my losses but for what everyone had to now live with. The death, the fear, and the uncertainty of all this.

Lastly to anyone who reads this, I know people have sadder stories to tell then mine but I haven’t had a normal nite sleep since that day and this was just a way to let out what i was feeling. Thank you for letting me rest a little better.