The story of a miracle...
Pasquale Buzzelli, a structural engineer with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was in his office on the 64th floor of the North Tower as the September 11th attacks began. He spoke to his pregnant wife on the telephone before he began his evacuation after the South Tower fell. Sensing something ominous, Pasquale crouched down and huddled into a corner of the stairwell as the 110-story tower came crashing down around him. He survived the tower collapse and woke up in the open air hours later on The Pile, a stack of debris seven stories high. The firemen who rescued Pasquale shared his remarkable story of survival with the media, as did others who cared for him that day. His story became a myth, an urban legend, and an enigma that gave rise to much speculation. Here he tells his story in captivating detail of falling and "surfing' the collapse of the North Tower.
On the morning of September 11th 2001 Pasquale Buzzelli was working on the 64th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. His wife Louise was at home, seven months pregnant with their first child. She was woken that morning by a call from Pasquale who asked her to put on the television as his building was on fire. As Louise watched in horror, the events of 9/11 unfolded over the next few hours. Pasquale called her again and told her he was about to evacuate the building but, just minutes later, Louise watched as the North Tower collapsed with Pasquale still inside. She was sure she had watched her husband and father of her unborn child die in front of her eyes...
Pasquale was in the middle of evacuating and reached the stairwell on the 22nd floor when the North Tower collapsed. He remembers thinking "this is how I’m going to die" as he fell with the building. Miraculously, he survived the fall and awoke three hours later perched on a pile of rubble on a concrete slab 4ft by 4ft sticking out over a huge 60ft drop. Eventually, firemen managed to get him down and he was taken to the hospital. Louise was at home being consoled by family and friends, still thinking he was dead, until late that afternoon, when the phone rang, and it was him on the other line! Pasquale was one of only 16 people to have survived the collapse of the North Tower.
Although Pasquale escaped with bruising and a fractured foot, virtually unscathed, the mental scars took a lot longer to heal. In the months after 9/11 Pasquale found it hard to come to terms with what happened – that he had survived and his friends and colleagues had not. He became distant from his wife and newly born baby as the guilt made it impossible for him to be happy.
At the same time Louise was experiencing her own PTSD. As joyous as she was to find out her husband survived, she equally felt pain and sorrow for those whose husbands were not as fortunate. Stories in the press would show widows and babies of men who had died in the attacks. "It is hard to imagine the pain they suffered and the strength they needed to carry out their pregnancy." Louise wrote A Song for Hope (named after their newborn daughter) and the money from the sale of the CD was shared among the widows and their babies born after 9/11
We All Fall Down: The True Story of the 9/11 Surfer is the story of how Pasquale dealt with the horrific events of 9/11, with the PTSD and survivor guilt that followed, and ultimately with his road to recovery. For Pasquale, 9/11 will always be with him and he thinks about it every day but now, 10 years on, he has realised the best way to respect the memory of those who died, he needs to live for his life again……"I could not control what had happened to me but now I can control how I would lead my life. How I would be the father and husband that my family deserved and to help and respect my fellow man as I was taught to do by my father."
A 9/11 Story with a Happy Ending
9/11/01 will live on as an infamous day in American history, one when far too many innocent lives were lost. Out of the rubble and debris and despair, though, we saw some stories of survival, some miracles, and the compassionate, selfless acts of would-be heroes. I have edited hundreds of books during my career as an independent book editor, many of them entertaining and unforgettable, but this book is one I will always consider my great privilege to read. The Buzzellis are remarkable people who have a remarkable story to tell, and this book truly is a story of hope fulfilled. It is beautifully written by the Buzzellis and Mr. Bittick, filled with emotion and remembrances, and I encourage everyone who was touched by that day, either in spirit or in person, to read this story.