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 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

In fact, one did. Well, I’m lying; she survived the fall but did not survive the day. No one knows her identity as she has never been identified, so she’s referred to as the “black tag lady.” Ernest Armstead gave an account of their brief interaction in “September 11: An Oral History”. You can find the whole relevant excerpt online. Still, I’ll summarize: Armstead worked in EMS tagging people green, yellow, red, and black to help other emergency workers prioritize which people to help, with black meaning the person is dead or close to it. He rushes to the first group of jumpers and begins to tag them black, but one lady in the group is still somehow lucid, though her body from the diaphragm and below is unrecognizable. They have a brief conversation where the lady pleads that she is not dead and to call her daughter. Armstead was trained to remember how she looked: a lady with a nice hairdo and earrings.

So, how exactly did she survive the fall? Most likely, she just got lucky with a sudden air draft that cushioned her fall enough for her to survive the fall but not enough to ensure her survival.

As a side note, Armstead claims the explosion blew out her and the other jumpers in her group, though that’s not true, as there are images of the WTC lobby immediately after the impact that show no bodies. There’s a much more detailed write-up of her on Quora if you would like to learn more about her:

Who was the luckiest to survive 9/11?

Chan Kong-sang, known professionally as Jackie Chan, is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, film director, producer, stuntman, singer, and one of my favorite Actors.

He escaped death because the script for a movie he was to shoot at the World Trade Center on September 11 failed to arrive on time.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Why did a large number of people jump from the World Trade Towers during the 9/11 attack?

Being slowly roasted by heat is a very painful way to die. You might see the skin on your body start to turn red, shrivel up, and begin to blister and crack.

Your lungs would start to hurt. You have to breathe, but every breath feels like boiling acid being poured down your throat.

You might have trouble seeing because of the smoke. Your eyes are streaming with the pain.

You know, certain by now, that you will not survive no matter what you do.

The windows are broken. The air outside is cooler, and you’re burning up.

You know you’re going to die either way.

But if you jump, the burning pain will go away. You’ll have a few pain-free seconds.

And when you hit the ground, you know it will be instantaneous. You feel no pain. You know it would all be over before your brain can even register that your body is dead.

I’d jump, too.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Why did a large number of people jump from the World Trade Towers during the 9/11 attack?

Really, try and imagine it. Put yourself in the situation. You are 100 stories high. You are working at your desk; You sip your coffee. You walk over to Susan. “Hi Susan, how was your week en-” BOOM, the building shakes, and you are thrown to the floor, and you have no idea what’s going on. From the floors below, you hear the agonizing screams of people dying and burning to death. You see thick black smoke rising from outside. The smoke pours into your floor. People are crying coughing, and the heat is unbearable. Loved ones are calling, saying a plane hit the 30th floor of the building. You are above the 30th floor; you realize you are probably trapped. All the stairwells are closed off with debris or fire. People are getting naked. It is so hot. Workers are on the floor suffocating, passing out. You see your co-worker of 5 years jump. Other people follow… So you jump

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Why did a large number of people jump from the World Trade Towers during the 9/11 attack?

Well, a number of reasons, most likely. Some may not have actually jumped but fell. They were crowded against the broken windows, trying to breathe fresh air away from the fire and smoke. Some may have accidentally been pushed out by the crowd of people trying to break away and accidentally slipped. Some jumped because they were trying to get away from the intense smoke, heat, and flames, and there was no way down, and no firefighters were there. Fighters were coming, but they didn’t get to the above-impact floors because of blockage, and it took a long while to climb up the stairs to the top.

Some most likely jumped on purpose. Some stories tell of people who saw some people look down and then jump. One lady supposedly drew a cross over her heart; then swan dived out the window.

These people made a choice, a choice of not to die but how to die. They were faced with black smoke, intense heat, flames, and fear. They realized they may not get help. So they chose a ten-second 1000-foot drop that would ensure instant death rather than being burned alive or crushed, which would be painful.

None of the people who jumped or fell from the towers committed suicide. They were forced into that situation and chose a quick death rather than a horrible one. However, jumping still had to be a horrible way to go. Who knew what was going through these innocent people’s minds during the ten-second descent to the concrete below?

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Did any of the people who jumped from The World Trade Center towers survive?

Watched a great documentary about first responders on 9/11 on NG. One of the EMTs was talking about the tags they have for different levels of injuries, and the last was deceased. He had started walking around the base of tower one. This was before two were hit. He didn’t find anyone. They were all deceased. This is until he came across one, and the lady faintly said, I’m not dead yet. Thinking they were placing tags on them for body bags. He said, looking at this lady, he knew there was no way she was going to live long. He said she had obviously fallen straight down and landed feet first. He said everything below her lower torso was just smashed/crushed; you wouldn’t want to see it. He said she looked like a flight attendant the way she was dressed. Could by some luck this was the case? They could’ve come down through the building and out of the plane.

Who knows. It was probably just a business worker who was dressed like that. But he knew she wasn’t going to make it much longer. But he told her that he made a big mistake and was sorry. And was correcting it. He assured her that help was coming right over for her and taking her to the hospital. But he was correct. Before anyone could even make it over, she passed away. He said that was in his head for three years. You could imagine the first responders and what they went through. He said it was the only person that he ever found alive at first.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Did any of the people who jumped from The World Trade Center towers survive?

“Boston” Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoff writes in “Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11” (Harper Collins, 2019), on pp. 263–264, that when an FDNY Emergency Medical Specialist named Ernest Armstead made his way on the plaza amid smoking debris, shortly after the first plane hit, he “found a well-dressed woman in her fifties, with brown hair and tasteful earrings, who’d suffered catastrophic injuries that left only her head and right torso intact. Somehow, she remained conscious. (…) ‘I am not dead,’ the woman insisted. ‘Call my daughter. I am not dead.’”

Zuckoff infers that she probably died from her injuries shortly after that.

Why did people jump from the Twin Towers if they had a chance of surviving?

I was on the 67th of the South Tower on 9/11, and all floors in both towers were the same except for the cubicle configurations and the paychecks we received- I attempted to place myself in their position:

They would have witnessed the charred remains of their co-workers and friends on the floors where they were trapped. If they wanted their bodies to be found and identified, they would jump. At that time, they would never know or expect that the towers would eventually collapse.

In order for them to jump holding hands(as some did), it would need to be planned in some detail. The windows were only 22 inches wide. Only a little room for one person, let alone two.

In the North Tower, all three emergency stairwells were severed. In the South Tower, one stairwell was open if you could find it through the smoke. Eighteen people managed to find it and continued to live.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Why did people jump from the Twin Towers if they had a chance of surviving?

My answer will not be popular, and many will disagree, but here goes. (Beware: long answer because I worked in NYC at the time and have spent a lot of time worrying about the poor jumpers).

First, the poor souls who jumped were almost all at their windows for a while. Most likely, the pain from the high heat forced them there and then, finally, out the windows when they realized they had to “take their chances.”

Second, I do not believe that when they made their exit, they were giving up hope. It had been some time since the planes hit, and they surely knew responders and fire trucks were on the scene. The ones who jumped knew that everyone was aware they were stuck at the windows. I’m an intelligent person, yet I know that, in that moment, I would NOT have abandoned hope. Our minds don’t work that way. We hope that *something* was figured out or that someone had figured out the answer to the question, “How can people stuck in windows be saved”?”

Some on Quora will say, “Oh, those people had to have known there’s no way people can be caught from that height.” To that, I say: I doubt the victims were running equations in their heads about velocity, the integrity of materials, or whether a rescue net could be used at a particular height/speed to catch jumpers. If it were me, despite my overall intelligence, the fact that I was unable to breathe or being burned would have made me consider jumping in the hope that “the experts out there” (i.e., people other than me) had figured out how to make “some kinda high tech safety net” by now (and I just hadn’t read about it; why should I have) and maybe all the people below had things staggered, so maybe nets were placed at different stories. It’s not like they could look down and see the lower heights of what they were jumping towards. I certainly wouldn’t have stayed to die.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

It’s easy for us to dismiss this, saying, “Everyone knows a safety net can’t be used from that height,” or to project our knowledge onto the ones in distress making a decision. But we should not assume what they were thinking or assume they were giving up hope. In fact, we are hard-wired never to give up hope, no matter what.

Personally, if I were in that window and needed to do something because I couldn’t breathe or was being burned, some “hope” type things would have flashed in my mind. I might have vaguely recalled a stunt with someone landing into a net after jumping from a plane, or some “high tech stuff” would have flashed into my mind (they have all that bungee jumping and other stuff that works; maybe I will end up bouncing 50 times onto something before I can get off whatever material I am bouncing on?) Yes, I would have had hope that in a place like New York in the 2000s, with all the brilliant minds, experts, and all the people below who were probably trying to help us….someone would have figured out “something.” Yes, regardless of how “unrealistic” that would have been. I would have told myself, “You can’t remember or don’t know the latest tech stuff or rescue stuff bc you never really read stuff like that, but hopefully, someone has something in place below that will give me a chance to live.” I would have just tried to jump out enough, so I didn’t hit the building on the way down to whatever attempted “catching” method was in place.

So, I believe those who jumped were not necessarily thinking, “Okay, I know I will die, but I choose this mode of death.” Hope is powerful and takes over. In fact, many people subconsciously don’t believe they are going to die of old age (“Maybe something will be figured out by then”). I have even googled cryo-whatever (freezing, in case one can be brought back to life) a few times.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Oh, and because I believe the folks who jumped had hope, those last 100 feet came quickly, and they likely still had hope at the moment of impact. I remember one time when I was parachuting in my younger years, there was a reckless instructor in Louisiana. He did a jump, and what you’re supposed to do is….if you are 300 feet or so and you’re main chute isn’t working, it’s time to pull the cord and set it free and pull the cord for your reserve parachute. (This was more than 25 years ago – things are structured differently for some chutes). Generally, people wanted to hold onto their main chute (at least back then) because it was a long rectangular type you could fly in gently, whereas the reserve chute was clunky and just deposited you on the ground hard (you’d tuck and roll). Plus…if you get rid of your main, you are now stuck with only one chute (the reserve), and it isn’t good if THAT one doesn’t work either. So this instructor was very stubborn (and later I learned…a drug user), and when he was about 300 feet above us, he was cussing and still messing with his main chute, trying to get it untangled. We yelled for him to use the reserve instead, and I swear he was under 200 feet when he finally gave in (cut the main chute free and pulled the reserve). This guy was hoping to fix his main chute still when he was SO close to the ground that we could actually see his snarling expression. (Yes, he hit the ground hard but was fine).

Hope is strong. If I jumped and saw no rescue netting by the time I got to 200 feet, heck, I’d be hoping for Spiderman or some hero to save me, and, yes, I’d actually think it was a real possibility, all the way to the end.

What happened to the 9/11 jumpers?

The same thing that happens to everyone who jumps from 80+ stories up.

They died.

They weren’t alone. Many good people died without jumping. There are two main reasons why the jumpers had so much focus placed on them.

  1. They became an iconic image of desperation and acceptance. They weren’t deranged or suicidal; they were just people who had accepted their imminent death and chose to meet it swiftly. Imagining how someone who had gone to work on a normal day could be brought to jump from a skyscraper made people understand just how lost they must have felt. It allowed everyone to understand some part of the trauma.
  2. Much like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, the fact that many jumpers were never identified allowed many of us who had lost loved ones to imagine that we had one last picture of them in their final moment of desperation and acceptance. Three thousand people disappeared in an instant, and no bodies were left behind to bury. New Yorkers never received the news that our loved ones had died; we just waited until we ran out of hope. Each person had to deal individually with the loss without confirmation, and instead of being a sudden wave of grief, it became an infectious doubt that crept into our minds. We hoped that the person we were waiting for might turn up, becoming less hopeful with each passing hour. For those of us who never received closure, the thought that that blurry figure might be our husband or our son gave a comfort that can’t be adequately described.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

What happened to the 9/11 jumpers?

There is a photographer who worked for the AP, Richard Drew, who put up a website. I’ll let people search for it themselves if they feel the need, but he matched with as many jumpers as he could with photos of them in the windows. A way that someone would know is by seeing what that person might have been wearing while visible in the windows. He was able to match up about 50 individuals, but the photos on the ground remained part of were basically crime scene photos.

A highly religious family from Indiana did not want to believe that their daughter had jumped, but Drew matched up photos. The family still would not believe it, thinking that would mean her daughter committed suicide. When, in fact, they were considered homicide victims, but religion is religion. The family discounted the photo of their daughter in a window as being someone else, though their son admitted it was likely her.

There were between 200–300 jumpers, half falling through the canopy between the two buildings. Several were recovered by police and firefighters who draped sheets over what they could. The average fall would take ten seconds. Almost every set of remains was right where the South Tower twisted and collapsed.

A completely intact body of a man was found on the roof of a nearby building. He was sitting straight up, and he worked on one of the floors with a direct impact and could have been pushed that far away by the winds.

The reason to believe that was true was other bone fragments found on the roof. Part of a jawbone was identified through DNA as belonging to a flight attendant on American 175, which was the second plane.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

What is the highest floor of the World Trade Center from which anyone escaped during the September 11 terrorist attacks?

Originally Answered: What is the highest floor that a known 9/11 survivor escaped from?

Highest floor of survival on September 11

I visited the World Trade Center dozens of times in the 1980s and 1990s. I stood on the roof of the South Tower to behold the vast, unobstructed city beneath me. I was there in late August of 2001 at the base of the complex while shooting an independent film. As one of millions with a special connection to the Twin Towers, I’ve mournfully studied this incident quite a bit.

As we watched one tower fall after another, 110 floors collapsing upon themselves not once but twice, we knew there would be incredible tales of survival eventually told. Soon after, the stories began to emerge. Our anguish was mildly quelled when 15 rescue workers and eight others miraculously survived inside the buildings as they tumbled. We learned about the mere 18 individuals who would escape any floor impacted by either plane. We heard accounts of a few individuals from very high floors of the South Tower who made their way down before the second impact and the building’s eventual reduction to rubble.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Two answers

This question can be divided into two answers. The most accurate response to the question is the highest floor in the South Tower, from which people successfully escaped before it was struck but after the attack was initiated on the North Tower. Indeed, there were a few occupants from some of the highest floors of the South Tower who realized something had happened in the adjacent building and chose to evacuate.

Readers might also be curious about the second answer, the highest floor of escape from a building after it was impacted by a plane. That would be a lower level than the first answer, but it is definitely of interest.

Highest floor of survival before impact

105th floor, South Tower

(Joe Dittmar, above, and seven others escaped from the 105th floor of the South Tower after the North Tower was hit.)

The Aon Corporation occupied eight of the upper floors in the South Tower (98th-105th). Dittmar and other high-ranking Aon employees were in a meeting on the 105th floor that Tuesday morning. The adjacent North Tower was hit by American Flight 11, which immediately captured their attention. It was 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001.

All of us watching the news that day imagined the South Tower was safe. Certainly, the North Tower had been the unlucky recipient of an accidental collision. An announcement over the public address system in the South Tower stated that anyone who chose to leave could do so but that it was safe to stay put as the building was unharmed. But a second plane, United Flight 175, had just deviated off course and was only 16 minutes and 29 seconds away.

(Smoke pours out of the North Tower)

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Unbeknownst to those in the undamaged South Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world, the 28-year-old structure would only exist for another 73 minutes. Nobody could have fathomed such a thought, not even in their wildest nightmares! After the North Tower was struck, eight Aon employees on the 105th floor, including Joe Dittmar, quickly decided they should depart. All of them would survive. The rest stayed and perished.

At that moment, the group that departed couldn’t know that delaying their decision to leave by only seconds would have led to their deaths as well. They couldn’t possibly realize that as they debated what to do – just one minute after the North Tower was struck – hijacked United Flight 175 was making a U-turn over Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at that precise moment, according to my careful mathematical calculations. The plane was heading right for them, and the clock was now ticking.

(A typical stairwell inside the World Trade Center)

Dittmar and the few Aon cohorts who left must have done so almost immediately. Proceeding down the stairs, the group descended 30 floors in about 15 minutes. They passed the soon-to-be-impacted 77th floor around 9:02 a.m. as United Flight 175 screamed northbound over Staten Island just one minute away. As they reached the 75th level a minute later, at 9:03 a.m., the flight plowed into the building just two floors above them. They were below the point of impact just in time, narrowly missing death. The plane instantly destroyed most of the 77th to 85th floors of the South Tower. Only 18 of 642 (2.8%) of the people now trapped from floor 77 to floor 110 would make it out alive. None above level 84 would survive, including Dittmar’s cohorts with Aon.

(United 175 flies over the Statue of Liberty seconds from impacting the south side of the South Tower with the North Tower ablaze)

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Back on the upper floors 98 through 105, Aon would lose 176 employees and visitors that day. Half an hour later, a 9–1–1 call from one of Dittmar’s coworkers on the 105th floor at 9:37 a.m. indicated that floors beneath them were starting to collapse. Only 22 minutes later, the South Tower collapsed entirely. At that moment, Dittmar’s group had finally finished their hour-long descent in what became a crowded stairwell. They had just departed the base of the South Tower when the structure collapsed behind them, narrowly defying death twice in less than an hour.

(Dittmar, right, emerges from the World Trade Center)

It was a shocking revelation during my research that those on the highest floors of the South Tower who didn’t leave immediately after the North Tower was struck had secured their deaths.

Highest floor of survival after impact

91st floor, North Tower

(George Sleigh was among the few people on the 91st floor who lived after a plane struck the North Tower.)

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Only 11 employees of the American Bureau of Shipping and a few electricians working in that office are known to have survived after the first plane hit floors 93 to 99 in the North Tower, cutting off all escape routes from the 92nd to the 110th floor. Those ABS workers like George Sleigh made their way down to ground level and departed not long before the collapse of the North Tower. All 1,356 people on floors 92 and higher died, including 170 patrons and employees in the Windows on the World restaurant that occupied the 106th and 107th floors.

There may have been survivors from three other businesses on the 91st story: Cedel Bank International, New Japan Securities International, and Shiga Bank. But those offices were likely unoccupied that morning as no tales of employee death nor survival have ever been published.

(The view from the 91st floor in the year 2000 from a studio operated by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council)

Additionally, only one man was present in the multiple spaces leased by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council on the 91st floor. He stayed behind and perished. The company Meyers Pollock Robbins Inc. also had offices on the 91st, but the space was empty after being shut down in late 1997 when 40 of their brokers and stock promoters were charged with scamming investors.

Highest floor of survival in the South Tower after impact

84th floor, South Tower

(Notable survivor Brian Clark)

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

To add a third superlative of interest, there would be no survivors above the 84th floor of the South Tower after impact. Brian Clark of EuroBrokers famously escaped the company’s offices on the 84th floor after finding a single stairwell that was passable. Only three of his fellow employees from that floor also made it out alive, the only four people from floors 82–84 to escape.

Clark’s coworkers and many others who did not survive either descended one of several other staircases. They found them impassable or ascended the stairs in hopes of a rooftop rescue, only to find the doors to the roof locked. Some might consider Clark’s cohort Ron DiFrancesco the highest positioned South Tower survivor after impact, only because he ascended from the 84th to the 91st floor before heading back down and surviving as the building collapsed around him.

(Typical locked doors offering rooftop access to the Twin Towers, this one likely in the North Tower)

Clark notably rescued Stanley Praimnath from the 81st floor. He had actually evacuated the South Tower when the North Tower was hit but returned to his office after a few minutes when cleared to do so. Clark and Praimnath were among only 18 people from the 77th floor and higher in the South Tower to survive the attack after the impact of the second airliner.

The two men ran from the World Trade Center complex at 9:56 a.m., followed by only two others who departed the South Tower after them. The building fell three minutes later. During the collapse of each building, only 23 total individuals would survive inside or at the base.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

Final pieces of trivia

It was stunning that Pasquale Buzzelli was on the 22nd floor of the North Tower when it fell and rode a piece of concrete down dozens of levels. That means he was on the highest floor of the 23 who survived either collapse.

Interestingly, of all those killed that day, Don DiFranco was probably located the highest above ground during the attacks. He was working alone on the transmitter for New York’s TV station WABC, located on the North Tower’s 110th floor at 1,354.99 feet above the ground. That was 6.56 feet higher than the 110th floor of the South Tower, which led to the roof. However, with the public observation deck not yet open that morning, it was unlikely that anyone would have been on the roof of the South Tower (the only place that would have exceeded 1,354.99 feet).

Were the bodies of the people who jumped off of the Twin Towers ever recovered after the 9/11 attacks?

Technically (some) were – but it was impossible to say for sure that they were the remains of those who were forced to jump.

At terminal velocity, approximately 120mph, the human body experiences thousands of G’s when it suddenly decelerates from traveling at around 50 meters per second to 0 instantaneously. That sudden halting is enough to obliterate our bodies, literally. So violent, total, and instantaneous was the destruction of the people who fell that many eyewitness accounts report there being very little blood in the area where those poor souls landed. Instead, there was an eruption of “pink mist,” and then what was left was A: barely distinguishable as human and B: pale and colorless, with few, if any, distinguishing anatomical features.

Now consider the collapse of the towers – thousands of tonnes of steel, concrete, and building materials that pancaked down on top of themselves; A 100-story building reduced to piles of rubble in around 10 seconds. The amount of energy released by each of the collapses is hard to visualize. Each tower’s fall produced sufficient energy to be registered on the Richter scale at 2.2 and 2.3 – more than enough energy to pulverize the fragile human form completely.

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

The remains recovered from the rubble pile were often little more than scraps – pieces of people – and rarely were they complete bodies. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to say with any confidence if one has just found the body of someone who leaped or someone who lost their lives in a huge crush.

A small silver lining, if any exists at all, is that the victims of the crush and of the fall likely died instantly. No pain, just immediate lights out. Small consolation for a day of pure barbarism.

* (I believe this figure to be correct as of May 2023.) Around 40% of all of those who died that day have had no remains discovered at all. The immense power of the collapse eradicated their physical form beyond what our current technology can recover.

* The fall itself is discussed in detail in some of my other answers. While many of the victims who fell or were killed in the collapse felt no physical pain, I am aware that they would have had moments of excruciating emotional pain and fear!

 How would the 9/11 jumpers survive? The 9/11 attack?

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