Report From Ground Zero : The Documentary

Report from Ground Zero cover.

By Tom Deignan, Columnist
October / November 2002

Dennis Smith’s gripping best-seller Report from Ground Zero will be the basis for a documentary airing on September 10, 2002. As Smith’s book did, the ABC TV special lets the survivors speak for themselves, combining their accounts with film and video of the World Trade Center’s initial construction, the attack itself, and the recovery at “the piles.”

Some highlights from the documentary include:

– An interview with David Rockefeller, the famed developer who, along with his brother Nelson — then governor of New York — built the Twin Towers in an effort to revive lower Manhattan. David witnessed their collapse from his Rockefeller Center office window.

– An account of the survival of firefighters who hunkered down in a fourth floor stairwell as they listened to the terrible sound of 106 floors pancaking `above while Tower One collapsed. As firefighter James Efthiamides says: You heard metal twisting, and then you heard from faraway `boom, boom as the floors started falling.”

– Reminiscences from those involved with building the WTC, and memories of an early wang by then Fire Commissioner John O’Hagan about its ability to withstand fire.

– An interview with firefighter John Vigiano who lost two sons, John Jr., a firefighter, and Joe, a police officer. His daily vigil at Ground Zero lasted until the end of the recovery effort. (See “Those We Lost,” in this issue).

– An interview with Lee Ielpi, retired firefighter, who lost his son Jonathan, a firefighter killed in the line of duty: “That cliché that we’ve used for so many years — when people are running out of burning buildings, firemen are running in — I want you to look at [the burning footage of] those buildings, and I want you to say, `Firemen looked at that and ran into that?’ You better believe it.”

– Finally, an interview with Eve Bucca, the widow of firefighter Ron Bucca, who made it to the 78th floor, stresses how important it is to remember all the 9/11 victims: “People think that, because we talk a lot about Fire Department or Police Department or Port Authority [people] who were lost, that we think the other people lost meant less. They’re the whole reason that he went in! And I’m sure, without a doubt, he was thinking, `This could be my mother, my daughter, my son, my brother.’ I’m sure so many of them were thinking that.” ♦

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