Home News Local News ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
By Alice Perry Linker
Observer Staff Writer
Paul Fothergill believes his brother Tim had a guardian angel with him when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center Sept. 11.
Tim Fothergill, a union electrician with a private contractor, descended stairs from the 70th floor of the North Tower to the mezzanine and escaped the building without a scratch, Paul said.
The La Grande resident and Oregon Department of Transportation employee did not know his brothers fate for many hours.
It took me all day to find out Tim was OK, Paul said. I called my dad as soon as I heard about it on the radio, and Dad hadnt heard anything.
The New York phone system was bad, and Dad couldnt get through.
Finally, after calling his father several times, Paul called his brothers house and got through to his sister-in-law.
I asked her, Where is Tim? She said, Hes sitting right
here, Paul said.
Tims trip from the World Trade Centers 70th floor to his home on Long Island took nearly all day, Paul said.
Tim was in an office when the first airliner hit the building. He heard an explosion and felt the building rock. When he looked out the window he saw debris flying through the air. At the same time, the fire alarm sounded, automatically closing all elevators. Tim knew he would have to walk down 70 flights to get out.
He called his wife, Jean, to tell her that something had happened to the center and he was leaving the building.
He said he never felt panic, Paul said. There was an orderly exit from the building very orderly. Nobody knew the severity.
Somebody with a portable radio said that an airplane had struck the building, But Tim didnt believe it, Paul said.
As Tim and others reached the 30th floor, they met firefighters going up the staircase toward the destroyed upper reaches of the building. Tim asked the firefighters what had happened, and they confirmed the radio report.
Some firemen asked if people would help carry their gear up a couple of flights, and Tim thought about doing that, but he didnt, Paul said. Its a good thing, because he might not have made it out of the building.
After an hour of going down stairs, Tim reached the mezzanine, where he noticed that all elevator doors had blown off. As he walked to his usual exit, he felt another explosion behind him and was knocked to the ground. Dazed, he realized he was lying in three or four inches of water and covered with a white dust.
Tim later realized the explosion was the South Tower imploding.
As Tim stood up, the lights in the building went out. Tim saw a fireman carrying a flashlight. He and several other people followed the fireman out of the building.
Tim began walking uptown toward Penn Station, and after a couple of blocks, he met some EMTs, who gave him cloths to wash his face.
When he had walked a little farther, he turned to look at the North
Tower only to see it crumbling to the ground.
About noon, Tim found a phone and called home.
The New York electrician returned to work Tuesday, Paul said. His company set up headquarters at Kennedy Airport.
Paul spoke of Tims exiting from the building.
From time-to-time Tim and the others would take a break and let the firemen by, Paul said. He said hell never forget the look on those firemens faces. They probably didnt come out.