NYC (WTNH) — It’s been 28 years since the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people were killed and dozens injured. Thousands escaped with frightening stories to tell. We spoke with a local woman Monday who was lucky to get out alive and is still traumatized.
It was a snowy, cold day on Feb. 26, 1993, when a truck bomb exploded in the garage of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
The plan by terrorists: the building would collapse onto the other, killing tens of thousands. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Six people were ultimately killed, but thousands were terrorized and still can’t move past it.
Tana Van Rooyen was in a store in the North Tower on that day in 1993 when suddenly the 110 story building started to shake.
“Suddenly we heard this explosion. The lights went out; it was total darkness. The building was moving. It was going like this and all the things on the shelf fell off and we tried to figure out way out.”
She was roughly halfway up the building – on the 44th floor in a room with no windows that was quickly filling with heavy black smoke.
Rooyen and others she was with couldn’t breathe so they got on the floor and gasped for air, crawling to safety. Although some broke windows for air, Rooyen and the people she was trapped with did not.
“I know that to save yourself, you have to go down and cover your head, breathe, and stay calm…Everyone was starting to panic in the dark and people were screaming and stepping on each other and people were starting to throw up and it was very frightening.”
They made it out of the stairs which were jammed with people and filled with smoke.
“The one stairway that was available we crawled downstairs which is more difficult than crawling upstairs.”
It took four and a half hours to get out of the tower as thousands crowded the stairwells and rushed into the fresh air.
Some people were covered in soot, others choking and/or vomiting.
“When I came out of the building I was completely black, my lungs were black; I coughed up soot for months.”
Now, nearly three decades later, Rooyen still feels the effects of that aweful day.
“Even today, when I go into a building or a plane or I get into a movie house I count the steps to the or left or and to the right.”
Following the attack, Ramsi Yousef was convicted for masterminding the attack, and security was upgraded at the World Trace Center.
A memorial fountain was dedicated to the victims in 1995 but was destroyed eight years later on 9/11 when terrorists crashed two planes into the towers, collapsing both buildings and killing thousands.