20 years after 9/11, survivor pays emotional tribute to firefighter

9/11 survivor reveals people in her tower thought there was a ‘kitchen fire’ and had a lucky escape after trying to get the elevator up to her office to find out what was going on

  • California-based Shumi Brody, 42, was just 22-years-old during the 09/11 attacks
  • She went viral with a TikTok video about the unnamed firefighter who saved her
  • Now she has appeared on ‘Lorraine’ to discuss her chilling experience  

A survivor of the 09/11 terrorist attacks has appeared on the Lorraine show to pay tribute to the unknown firefighter who saved her life.

California-based Shumi Brody, was just 22-years-old, and on her first day on her new job as a legal assistant when two commercial jets were flown into the Twin Towers in worst ever terrorist attack in the US, which killed almost 3,000 people.

According to the now mum-of-three, people in the tower had no idea what was going on when the planes hit. She said: ‘It was really hard to tell what had happened, at no point when I was in the building would I have ever thought that it was a commercial jet liner that had hit us.

‘It felt like an earthquake, which was very strange for New York City. It shook the building violently and then all of a sudden came to a stop.’

According to Shumi, she was waiting on the 44th floor to take the elevator to the 56th floor when the plane hit the building. 

She added:  ‘I was all alone, I wasn’t with my colleagues in the office, and I continued to push the elevator button so I could go even higher to the 56th floor, not knowing what had happened. 

‘I thought maybe I could get more information from my colleagues if I’d gotten into the office. 

‘Luckily that elevator never came, and the light just flickered, so I followed a gentleman into the emergency stairwell, who looked very scared and was sprinting, so I took his lead.’

The 9/11 survivor said that because no one knew what what happened – they had no social media and couldn’t check phones to see the news – everyone in the stairwell was ‘very calm’.   

She said: ‘I remember promising my mom before I took this job in New York City that I would call her every day around 8:45 when I got into the office, and I did call her, but my calls never went through.

‘So I was in the building for an hour before I was able to get out. There were many people that left the emergency stairwell just opening up other doors to floors and saying: “Oh I don’t smell smoke on this floor”, because after some time, the smoke started filling into our stairwell.

‘At around the 35th floor, there was a locked door in the emergency stairwell, and there was a man who was in the building staff who tried every key on his keyring to get the door open, and it’s unclear whether he was able to get that door open or if it was the firefighters on the other side that were able to break the door open.’

When she was heading down the stairs, she tripped over, at which point, the firefighter lifter her up, looked at her, and said: ‘Keep moving, stay calm, but just keep moving, you’re going to get out of here.’   

At that point, Shumi revealed, she knew she ‘had to get out’ and that something more serious than they all realised was going on. 

‘We initially thought there was a kitchen fire,’ she said. ‘On the 45th floor, there was a huge cafeteria, people used to eat lunch there and enjoy the views, and so it seemed plausible that there might have been a kitchen explosion. 

Shumi Brody, who lives in California, was just 22 when New York City’s Twin Towers were hit by aeroplanes in the US’s worst ever terrorist attacks. She told her story on the Lorraine show

The now mum-of-three has shared chilling details of the attack – revealing that people in the towers had no idea what was happening as there was no online news to check back in 2001

Now a mother of three, Shumi appeared on the Lorraine show to recount her memories of the traumatic event, in which almost 3,000 people were killed

Newspaper reports from the time show how Shumi managed to escape from the burning tower with the help of the unnamed firefighter

‘But as time went on, and they were bringing down burn victims in the stairwell, we knew something more serious had happened but no one knew about it. There were people in the stairwell saying, “I hope they clear up this issue, I have an 11:30 meeting I have to go to”.

‘You know around the 11th floor, water started filling up into the stairwell, it seemed the pipes must have burst, the electricity was starting to go out, and so all of us started holding each others’ shoulders, trying to navigate to get to the bottom floor and finally when the door flew open and light started coming in, we knew we had made it.

‘There was a gentleman who was peacefully and calmly guiding us to the back of the building, and it was just so selfless, and it was as if he knew exactly what to do, so well orchestrated, everyone just remained calm the entire time.

‘I had a chance to look out into the courtyard where I had walked into the building and this beautiful structure was completely destroyed and I remember thinking, “This is some kind of kitchen fire, there’s something else going on’.

‘So once we were led to the back of the river, I had the chance to look up at both the buildings and I noticed there were two gaping holes, and so not only was my building hit, so was the one next to it.’

Shumi kept trying to call her mother, wondering if her mother was trying to call her, and if she even knew what was going on.  

Terrifying images from the event on September 11, 2001, show how badly the towers were affected by being hit by commercial planes

The planes were commandeered by terrorists who flew into the Twin Towers – iconic buildings in New York City 

The attacks – considered the worst terrorist attacks in US history, killed almost 3,000 people after the two buildings were detroyed

‘And I just wanted to call her to tell her that I would be okay and there was an issue, but I would be back at work and I would call her when I was at my desk, but that call never happened,’ Shumi said.

‘And as I was looking up at the buildings a woman screamed, “Everybody run, the building is coming down!’

Shumi added: ‘If you’ve seen [the footage] of everybody running with white ash on them, I was one of those people. 

‘And I continued to run North away from the building.’

Shumi told Lorraine that she had moved to New York City with her younger sister – a freshman at Barnard College that year – and she had taken the job in order to look after her little sister – but says its turns out that ‘she was looking after me.’

Discussing not being able to trace the firefighter who saved her, Shumi said: ‘He was just so determined that he was going to help anybody that needed to be helped and he just pushed on and went up the stairs while all of us were heading down. 

‘I’ve always thought of him as a hero, he’ll never know that but the firefighters that day were so selfless and heroic, and I like to remember 9/11 as a day where so many selfless acts were made.

‘It was one of the darkest days I’ll ever know, but also one of the brightest to see so many of us come together and it really restored my faith in humanity.’

Speaking on the tragedy, 20 years after it happened, Lorraine concluded: ‘It’s a time for reflection and I think it’s a good idea to focus on all the incredible acts of heroism, it was remarkable.’

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