12 year anniversary of 9/11: AZ man shares his story of survival - Fox 2 News Headlines

12 year anniversary of 9/11: Arizona man shares his story of survival

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Dan Jacobson Dan Jacobson
PHOENIX -

12 years ago, hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Stories from that September 11, 2001 continue to emerge, like this one: a man from the valley was there on business, survived and his life was changed forever.

Nearly 3,000 people died, many more injured, and the United States suddenly woke up and discovered terrorism can happen anywhere.

Dan Jacobson is a financial planner in Peoria, he was there on that day in tower two of the World Trade Center.

"I was in the south tower of the World Trade Center and I was in training with Morgan Stanley at the time."

He had never been in New York City before.

"The first day, it was kinda of nice to take a little breakfast break, and look out at the Statue of Liberty, the first time I'd seen it."

He was among 200 students on the 61st floor of the 110 story south tower, feeling safe and secure.

While taking a bathroom break, he had no idea of the tragedy that was happening around him.

"So I washed my hands and walked out of the door, and see smoke down the hallway corridor.  And there was gentleman at the emergency exit who said lets go we've been hit!"

He made it to the stairwell along with hundreds of people rushing down about eight floors, desperately trying to make it out of the building.

"I remember counting down 46 - 45 and somewhere around there is when the building was rocked and we were moving in the stairwell all of a sudden," Jacobson said.  "And that was the second plane hitting the south tower."

Then suddenly he became aware - that he could die.

"And I began to recite the Lord's Prayer, It was the first thing that came to mind, And it was at that moment that I want to say a peace really came over me, like a warm feeling, That it wasn't going to happen today."

He  continued to rush down the stairwell, the building was swaying back and forth there was intense heat, from the flames. He could hear people screaming from above and below.

And then something peculiar happened.

"They were coming up the center, and you can see an emotion on their faces, because they had already seen what was going on.  They knew why they were going up into those buildings. And I just remember seeing this one gentleman's face and it looked like he had tears in his eyes already as he was running up the stairs."

He made it to the ground floor and outside, but that was just the beginning.

"As I looked up when I got out, it looked as though both buildings were melting."

And as he ran across the street - more horror...

"When I reached across the street, and I wanna say that was probably the remains of someone who maybe had to jump and shop owners covering that with newspapers."

When he looked up he saw people, falling to their death.

He ran as fast as he could, just ahead of that giant cloud of dust from the collapsing tower.  He only stopped to look back once, and that's when the second tower came crashing down.

"I remember a deep sorrow, like I couldn't be sad enough... I remember crying uncontrollably and trying to make it back to my hotel."

He made it back to his hotel room, called his family and collapsed on the bed, sleeping for over six hours.

Dan Jacobson made out alive, and he feels there was a reason why he survived.  His wife died last year of brain cancer.

"Now I know why God spared me to take care of her to make sure she had everything she need and I do feel there's a divine presence for that."

Now there is a tribute to those events at Ground Zero in New York.  It is beautiful and a fitting reminder of the lives that were lost that day and our ability to move on and grow from a tragedy like this.

A tragedy that has left indelible memories especially in the minds of those who survived.

"It's not over yet, and we still have a problem -- It's hatred that's the problem, and I try to recoup most of that with love."

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