I had just moved to Las Vegas during the middle summer 2001 and became the weekend forecaster for KTNV (ABC) Channel 13.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up late and was scheduled to do the weather-cast for our 11am newscast.
So, I quickly got in the shower, got dressed, and left for work at about 9am Pacific Time. When I got in the car, my ESPN radio station was not talking about sports. I hadn’t completely woken up, so I didn’t know what happened. Why are these radio hosts talking about a plane that crashed into a building? I couldn’t process what was going on.
It was a 15-minute drive to work, and by the time I got to the station at Valley View and Spring Mountain, I was shockingly aware of what had just happened in New York City. But the reality of the situation was about to be revealed to me in a way that I wish I could forget.
I walked into KTNV and our newsroom, like every other newsroom in the country, had TV monitors lined up and stacked up across the back wall. Some have live broadcasts on other stations, some were live feeds of video coming into the newsroom and those monitors were showing feeds of the burning buildings in NYC that were just attacked by terrorists in commercial airline jets filled with fuel.
I suppose I shouldn’t go into to detail about some of the images burned into my brain now. But I will say that we watched as the victims in the buildings were forced to make a choice... either burn alive or jump. It is a haunting memory of the most horrific choice a person can make.
I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. And, it was too much for me to witness, so I ducked into the studio at Channel 13 where our weather center was located. At 9 a.m., our main anchor evening team was on the air broadcasting updated information about the 9/11 terrorist attack. I started to work on the forecast for the 11am newscast to take my mind off what was really happening.
After about a half hour of forecasting, my news director came into the studio and said, ‘what are you doing in here? We are not doing any weather today. Go to the assignment desk because you will be reporting today.’
My story was about a local guy in Las Vegas whose cousin was working in the Twin Towers in New York and he hadn’t heard from his cousin yet about whether he was a victim or made it out alive.
There was a happy ending to my story because right before we went on the air at 5pm, he called me and said his cousin was okay, he made it out of his burning building. He was one of the fortunate ones.
It was hard to celebrate even that small victory because of what I already knew and had seen with my own eyes. There were thousands who weren’t so fortunate and the web of pain that was going out through their families, co-workers, and friends was immeasurable. And, it was just the beginning of a 19-year nightmare that I’m sure they all still live with today.
I had no personal or familial connection to this attack but it still haunts me to this day.