More current than ever, given the return of Taliban extremists to power in Afghanistan, the September 11 attacks turn 20 years old this Saturday. And one of the survivors of the attacks on the World Trade Center recounts the moments of terror he lived through that fateful bloody Tuesday. “I didn’t even know if I was alive or dead,” says Richard Eichen.
Character of one of the specials that the History channel will show to remember this historic milestone, Eichen agreed to speak openly with the TV news about her experience on September 11th and about the trauma she still carries today due to the attacks.
The then WTC employee was in the North Tower, the first to be hit by the hijacked planes, and was one of the few survivors from floor 90. “I was one of five people on that floor who managed to get out. no one else,” he points out.
I heard a metallic sound, like a blow; it was the plane that hit the building. Then everything burst into flames. The walls fell. A friend who was on fire died between my legs. I had no idea what was going on. I saw the flames on the walls and the ladies’ room door opening and closing against its own hinges. And I thought: ‘What do I need to do to survive this nanosecond?’ And then I realized that I was also wounded and bleeding.
Amidst all the confusion, Eichen became a hero by helping Luz González, another employee of the building he didn’t even know, to descend the 90 flights of stairs to the ground floor. “As we were going down, she passed out twice. Around floor 40, we found a firefighter, who gave her oxygen and helped me carry her. Then more came. One asked me, ‘How are things up there?’ . And I: ‘How are they underneath?’ Nobody understood what had happened,” he says.
The official, who was about to turn 50 on the day of the attack, narrowly escaped the tragedy. “I had taken four steps out of the building when it started to fall. I saw the building collapse almost over my right shoulder. .”
Then I thought: ‘Everything is quiet, dark, I don’t feel pain anymore. If death is like that, I’m at peace‘. This is something I always carry with me. At that exact moment, I was wondering if I was alive or dead, because I didn’t even know. Then I was taken to the hospital and when I got there, I realized it was a disaster.
Effects of tragedy remain
Even 20 years after the attack that nearly took his life, Richard Eichen still feels the consequences on his physical and mental health. “I have medical problems related to that day. My father is 99 years old, and I always think, ‘Will I live as long as he does?'”, he says.
The psychological was also shaken forever after the tragedy. “I developed post-traumatic stress. When I hear a very loud sound, it all comes out. Getting on a plane was very difficult. Whenever I went to a movie or a restaurant, I was already looking for emergency exits. I also had nightmares, of course. . And when it comes this time of year, I get really anxious, but I’ve learned to deal with it. But it’s something that happens every year and I think it will continue to happen for the rest of my life.”
September 11th Specials
History will show five new documentaries about the 2001 attacks between this Friday (10) and Saturday (11). The special program starts at 8:15 pm, with Conspiracy Theories. At 10 pm, The Four Fatal Flights tells the stories of passengers and crew in their final moments.
On Saturday, at 7:45 pm, Assault on the Pentagon brings the reports of men and women who were at the headquarters of the Department of War of the United States and reveals how the most protected place on the planet became a target. At 8:40 pm, World Trade Center: Before and After the Fall shows the architectural project that attracted the eyes of the world and how two planes were able to destroy everything in a matter of minutes.
Finally, at 10:20 pm, Hunt for Bin Laden: The Mission Revealed opens up the backstage of the US action that culminated in the death of the terrorist leader. Former President Barack Obama, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and undercover military agents who were on the mission are among those interviewed for the program.