A British artist who had been working on the 91st floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11 has recalled the incredible twist of fate that saved her from dying on the tragic day.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, two planes hit the North and South towers of the World Trade Center.
A third was crashed into the Pentagon in New York, while the final hijacked flight failed to reach its supposedly intended target of either the White House or US Capitol Building – instead being brought down in a field in Pennsylvania.
Arriving at the 91st floor of the North Tower at 6am on the morning of the terror attacks, artist Vanessa Lawrence had a large open studio, where she had been painting a vista of the city landscape through the large windows in front of her.
But shortly before the first plane hit a tower, she decided to take a coffee break, and headed down to the lobby.
Appearing on the BBC’s Surviving 9/11 documentary, Vanessa noted that it was this casual decision that saved her life.
If she hadn’t gone down for a drink, she said her chances of survival would have been minimal.
She said: “I would have seen the plane coming right towards me, because I was right at that window, in the direction it was coming.
“It would have happened so quickly that you don’t get the chance to really take in what’s coming towards you and what’s actually happening.”
Recalling the timeline in further detail, she said: “I got my drink, made a call and went to make my way back up.
“I remember the guy in the elevator went to hold the door, and I remember him pressing the 93rd, and me pressing the 91st?"
It meant that, instead of sitting in her studio which faced the oncoming plane, Vanessa was instead further inside the building and so was saved.
She continued: “Literally the second I stepped out of the elevator it was just a big ‘boom’ and the building shook and smoke and debris came blasting down the corridor.
“The elevator, as soon as we’d been thrown out of it, it went into a fireball, and dropped."
Eventually, Vanessa managed to find her way out of the tower, and continues to paint.
However, like many, she explained that she is still suffering from the long-term impacts of the near-death experience, having to leave New York.
“I wanted to stay there more than ever, but I then just got to a point that I actually couldn’t handle the way that I was feeling, and the fear that I had,” she said.
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