911 trivia: Rob Sibarium: “I thought we were going into the ocean.”

For many near the impact zones, location meant everything. Despite being three floors above Jim Gartenberg, MetLife Insurance…

For many near the impact zones, location meant everything. Despite being three floors above Jim Gartenberg, MetLife Insurance employee Rob Sibarium survived that day – but only through the actions of two noteworthy 9/11 heroes.

Sibarium and about a dozen colleagues were on MetLife’s 89th floor offices when the first plane struck the North Tower just a few stories above. “The building bent so far, I thought we were going into the ocean,” he remembers. With fires breaking out around them, Sibarium and his coworkers retreated to a law firm down the hall.

911 trivia: Rob Sibarium: "I thought we were going into the ocean."
911 trivia: Rob Sibarium: “I thought we were going into the ocean.”

Soon, the situation there also become untenable as the corridor filled with smoke and flames. “The floor was actually melting,” Sibarium said. The exits were blocked. They were doomed.

And then, suddenly, they were delivered.

“We were pounding on those doors,” said Nathan Goldwasser, a colleague of Sibarium, “and almost like a miracle, we heard a voice on the other side yelling, “Get away from the door!’ The next thing, there’s a crowbar coming through the wall.”

Their savior was either Port Authority architect Frank de Martini or his colleague, Pablo Ortiz. The duo is credited with saving more than 75 lives in the North Tower that day. Both perished when the building collapsed – continuing to save others throughout the ordeal despite having ample time to escape themselves. Their story is told in a riveting documentary, ”Heroes of the 88th Floor”.

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