A Black Woman Was The Last Survivor Recovered From Ground Zero On 9/11, She Shares Memories Of That Harrowing Day 20 Years Later

·3 min read
Tribute in Light in New York City
Tribute in Light in New York City

Source: Gary Hershorn / Getty

 

Last Saturday marked the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a day that will be forever engrained in the lives of millions of Americans. Genelle Guzman McMillan was the last person to be rescued from underneath the smoking rubble of Tower 1 after the building came crumbling down at 10:28 a.m. PEOPLE notes. Before the harrowing experience took place, Guzman McMillan came into work on the 64th floor of the building like any other normal day. The then 30-year-old was working as an office temp for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m. Islamic terrorists hijacked an American Airlines flight that hit the top floors of Tower 1, also known as the North Tower. Guzman McMillan who is now 50, told PEOPLE that she felt the 110-story building shake as the aircraft hit. After feeling a tremor from another flight impacting the South Tower, the mother of three raced towards the staircase with her coworker Rosa to escape, but at 10:28 a.m., the tower came tumbling down.

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“Everything just went boom,” she recalled of the frightening experience. “Everything was crumbling and was just coming on top of me.”

Guzman McMillan, who is of Trinidadian descent, said she felt as though she had been buried underneath the rubble “forever.”

“I just thought I was dreaming. I just figured this has to be a dream. This is not happening. And I didn’t know if anybody was going to find me. I just laid there,” she continued.

“I heard everything what was going on. I heard someone cry out for help in a very faint voice. I would hear the trucks and the walkie talkies going off. But I couldn’t call out for some reason.”

Guzman McMillan spent 27 hours stuck in the remains of the Tower fighting for her life. The miraculous 9/11 survivor told ITV News in an interview that minutes before rescuers found her, she felt as though she wanted to “give up.”

“…I just shook my eyes and I said to myself, ‘nobody’s gonna find me, nobody’s gonna hear me, I just want to be gone.” That’s when she heard a voice crying out for her name and she felt the hand of a firefighter lifting her from underneath the heavy debris.

“I held on to his hands so tight… And he kept holding my hand, and kept having conversations with me and telling me that, ‘you’re gonna be fine, I’m not gonna let you go, just keep holding my hand” she explained.

Rescuers arrived at the scene to discover that her right leg was crushed, REVOLT TV reported. Guzman McMillan also suffered facial burns and a swollen head due to the implosion. She was hospitalized for over a month and had to undergo numerous surgeries.

The 50-year-old told ITV News that she believes she was given a “20-year extension on life.”

“I am blessed to be here but I wish my other workers were here as well”, she added.

According to CNN, 2,753 people were killed at the World Trade Center following the vicious attacks. Guzman McMillan was among 20 people that survived in the aftermath of the Twin Towers collapsing, USA Today notes.

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