World Trade Center 'surfer' struggles to comprehend his survival 20 years later

Pasquale Buzzelli is one of two survivors of 9/11 who survived by surfing down the Twin Towers fall. He has mixed feelings of gratitude and guilt.
He told 60 Minutes Australia that he was given the gift and that he wanted to make the most of it. He struggles to understand why he survived while others did not.

It was possible that it was luck, divine intervention and quick wits. The victim ended up curled up against two concrete walls in the corner of a staircase.


Buzzelli was at the North Tower's 22nd Floor when he fell from a narrow section of concrete flooring and fell another 18 stories. He suffered a broken ankle and leg.

In a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, two planes crashed into New York's Twin Towers. This caused 2,996 deaths. At 9:59 AM, the first plane crashed into the South Tower. It then collapsed. The North Tower was next 28 minutes later.

TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Mia Buzzelli, Louise Buzzelli, Hope Buzzelli, Pasquale Buzzelli and Savannah Guthrie appear on NBC News' "Today" show in 2012 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images) NBC NewsWire/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via

Buzzelli arrived at the Port Authority's 64th floor office just like every other day. He felt his first trouble while riding the elevator. It dropped several feet before he reached his office. Buzzelli called Louise, his wife, once he reached his desk.

I told her, "Don't be alarmed. Im OK. Everythings fine. Just, can you turn on the TV and tell me what it sees." She then goes, Oh my God, she goes. Buzzelli said that a plane had hit your building. 60 Minutes.

Buzzelli initially thought that he was safe because the crash was not above him. Buzzelli felt a strange sensation, it was so surreal. He told the Sun newspaper that he knew he could die.

Louise was called again by him, and he said: Why aren't you there? Why are you calling me? Please, leave!

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Buzzelli grabbed his briefcase and a flashlight. He then ran down the stairs. He encountered firefighters on the way. He was told to continue.

The building was shaking and rumbling by the time he reached its 22nd floor. Buzzelli said to 60 Minutes that Buzzelli climbed into a corner and fell into a fetal position.

I felt the wall I was lying next to crackle and the floor give way. I stayed in a fetal position, my eyes closed.

As I was falling, I felt this wind rush and this abrasive, blaster-type feeling. I just kept my head down, but I was being knocked about. You know, I saw a few flashes in my head after being knocked into the head. I remember thinking, "You know, I can't believe this is the way, my God, this is how I am going to die."

Uh, you see, I thought about my unborn baby, my wife...and, you know what, I said, Please, just God take care of them and give them a quick death Buzzelli said.

Buzzelli stated that he still has a chance at life, and that he wants to be the best person possible. He is also devastated by the loss of his life.


14 of my colleagues died when the tower fell. These were the last people that I saw before the tower collapsed. They were the victims and I was the survivor. I felt guilty. I wanted to pretend that it never happened.

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Tags: News, September 11, September 11 Terrorist Attacks, New York City

Original Author: Tori Richards

Original Location: The World Trade Center surfer struggles to understand his survival twenty years later