"I feel unshaken in a strange way, and I feel stronger in my faith," said Brian Clark, an elder at Wyckoff Reformed Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey, who was working on the eighty-fourth floor of World Trade Tower Two when the first plane crashed into Tower One. His survival has spurred an outpouring of concern from church members and caused Clark to reevaluate his plans for the future.
"I feel that I have been given additional time here on earth to do something and I am trying to figure out what that is," he said.
After the first crash, Clark, who had been trained as a fire warden after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, began to evacuate with six colleagues. Despite the announcement that everything in Tower Two was safe, Clark and his coworkers continued to leave.
Minutes later, the second jet hit Tower Two only a few floors below.
As Clark and the group continued evacuating, they were confronted by a couple in the stairwell who argued that everyone should go upstairs away from the smoke, where helicopters would likely rescue them. Four people in Clark's group were convinced to return to higher floors, but during the debate Clark heard a cry for help.
"I heard a thumping, and a cry, 'Help! Help, I'm buried. Can you hear me? I can't breathe,'" Clark recalled.
With a flashlight, Clark and a coworker squeezed through a crack in the wall on the eighty-first floor and were able to locate the source of the voice. A man who later introduced himself as Stanley Praimnath was trapped under his desk. Clark began to remove debris alone, because his coworker was overwhelmed by smoke and had to return to the stairwell in order to breathe.
"I felt as if I were in a bubble," said Clark. "I was absolutely unbothered by smoke. I was just working to pull debris off the man. Nothing mattered but getting him out."
When Clark successfully rescued the man, the man exclaimed "Praise Jesus. I'm saved!" The two began their descent in the stairwell, which was by this time deserted. When they made it safely to ground level, Clark and Praimnath were directed by police to cross the street. They walked to Trinity Church, boarded the ferry headed for Jersey, and each man headed home.
Though Clark had called his wife, Dianne, after the first jet hit Tower One, she and her children were uncertain whether Clark had made it safely out of Tower Two before it collapsed. Upon seeing the news on TV, the Rev. Robert Gram, pastor of Wyckoff Reformed; elder Carol Mutch; and two other parishioners had gathered at the Clark home to comfort and pray with the family.
A few weeks after the attacks, Clark is trying to find new space for his business. He recalls the words he spoke to his new friend, Stanley Praimnath, outside of Trinity Church: "You called me away from the debate about whether to go up or down. You may think I saved your life, but I think you saved my life too."
Web posted September 28, 2001, by the Reformed Church in America
Web posted to this site: October 1, 2001
Cross Reference: 81st
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