Yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11, a day that changed the world as we know it. Steele & Drex spoke with a man who was a fire paramedic for 26 years in New York City and on September 11th, 2001, he lost his partner to the attacks when the north tower collapsed.
Roberto Abril reflects on the day that he says is still fresh in his mind.
“It’s still very fresh, every time people ask me about it I get all choked up, I try to avoid that type of situation, but even after 15 years if you ask me anything about it I have to actually hold back the tears because it was really bad, it was really a horrible, horrible thing to happen to us. And we lost a lot. I lost a good friend, I lost my partner, and more than that I think we lost our innocence.”
Abril remembers driving with his partner, thinking the flames they saw were ordinary until they got a closer look at the situation.
“We saw fire going on in one of the towers and we thought it was a regular fire, and we just kept driving, when we came back the other side of the tunnel we saw that the two of them were on fire so right away we knew it was something weird, something strange, and something we had never seen before.”
He says the horrors he witnessed are difficult to forget, including the sound of bodies hitting the pavement below the towers as people jumped to their death. But through it all, his priority was to continue doing his job and saving lives.
“You see people dying. You see these people jumping out of top floors. And you think it’s a desk coming down until you see legs and arms waiving in the open air. And you kind of, like, close your eyes to that and say ‘I can’t do anything about that, but I can save lives. I can tell people to get out, I can tell people to run, or I can even give them a ride out of there.”
Abril’s partner lost his life that day. The two never separated, but in the moment, on the morning of Sept. 11, they went in different directions and only one made it out alive.
“I may not make it home”
Dora, Abril’s wife, remembers receiving a voicemail on her phone at work that day from her husband warning her that he may not make it home. She says she was worried, but had no doubt in her mind that he would be safe.
“I always felt in my heart that he was gonna be okay because he’s very strong, he’s always very focused, he’s a true professional at what he does. You know, he was born to do something that not many people can do, and I just knew, my heart told me he was gonna be okay.”
She says each year when 9/11 comes around it’s a special day for them to celebrate. Their relationship grew stronger from it, and she says they appreciated each other more after making it through disaster.