Man Survived 9/11 Attacks, Now Lives In East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/9/04-Chapel Hill

Man Survived 9/11 Attacks, Now Lives In East Texas

For nine years, Gregg Hofmeister worked in Tower Two of the World Trade Center, doing maintenance work for Aramark on the operation deck of the 107th floor.

"You could see all over Manhattan," he said. "You could see the whole skyline, the curvature of the sky."

But that all changed at 8:45 a.m., September 11, 2001.

"I put a light fixture in the ceiling, and we had a tremble in the building," Hofmeister said. "Went out to look and found out that the first tower had been hit. When I seen the plane inside the building, I knew exactly what it was."

The people inside Tower Two were told to evacuate. Hofmeister says he took the elevator from the 107th down to the 78th floor, where he would have to switch elevators. But they were all full, so he took the stairs.

"We had all the smoke coming up," he said. "You could smell the jet fuel. Total chaos. Lights were going out. People screaming."

At 9:03 a.m., the second plane hit the 78th floor of Tower Two, just a few floors above him. Hofmeister's boss and his five co-workers were killed.

"I was in the stairwell when the plane hit it," he said. "And building's rocking about three or four feet each way. "You didn't think of nothing, just shock. Just get out. Get people down and get out. Don't stop. Just keep going."

When Hofmeister reached a landing, he saw a woman hanging onto the railing, saying she couldn't go any further. He and another man decided to help.

"So we said, you're either going down the stairs with us or you're going to get pushed down. We pried her arms off and we carried her down. She was between 350 and 400 pounds. By the time I got down, hit the street, the buildings were coming down."

Hofmeister says he spent the next three days working non-stop, setting up emergency trailers, trying to restore power to lower Manhattan, and checking the area for anthrax.

Since the 9/11 attacks, Hofmeister has had multiple surgeries to repair his injured back, shoulder, and knee, and still suffers from insomnia. He says he can still smell the burning towers.

Hofmeister says he and another man carried another woman through the subway tunnel and left her with paramedics on the ground. Hofmeister never again saw or heard from the two women he helped rescue, and he doesn't even remember what they looked like. All he could think about at the time was to get as many people out as possible.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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