911 trivia: Tom McGinnis: “You don’t understand. There are people jumping.”

When the planes hit the Twin Towers, the area’s cell phone bandwidth and land lines became overwhelmed with…

When the planes hit the Twin Towers, the area’s cell phone bandwidth and land lines became overwhelmed with calls. As a result, some people trapped on the upper floors had extreme difficulty getting through to a worried loved one.

Trapped on the North Tower’s 92nd floor, Carr Futures stock trader Tom McGinnis was unable to reach his wife Iliana until 10:18am – more than 90 minutes after the first plane struck directly above him. By then, McGinnis and a handful of colleagues had retreated to an office surrounded by flames. McGinnis also may have known that, about 20 minutes earlier, the South Tower had completely collapsed.

911 trivia: Tom McGinnis: "You don’t understand. There are people jumping."
911 trivia: Tom McGinnis: “You don’t understand. There are people jumping.”

Dismayed at learning her husband was still in the burning building, Iliana recalls the conversation: “Are you O.K., yes or no?” she demanded.

“We’re on the 92nd floor in a room we can’t get out of,” Tom said. “I love you. Take care of Caitlin [the couple’s daughter].”

Understandably, Iliana wasn’t ready to concede defeat. “Don’t lose your cool,” she urged. “You guys are so tough, you’re resourceful. You’ll get out of there.”

“You don’t understand,” Tom said, discouraging his wife’s false hope. “There are people jumping from the floors above us.”

The gravity of the situation sunk in for Iliana. All she could muster was “Don’t hang up.”

His last words before the line disconnected: “I got to get down on the floor” The tower collapsed just minutes later, at 10:28am.

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