Stanley Praimnath woke up early on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. He showered, prayed and went to work. “For some particular reason, I gave the Lord a little extra of myself that morning,” Stanley said. “I said, ‘Lord, cover me and all my loved ones under your precious blood.’ And even though I said that and believed it, I said it over and over and over.”
A deacon at Bethel Assembly of God deacon and Sunday school superintendent in Elmont, Long Island, Praimnath arrived at World Trade Center Tower Two and took the elevator up to his office on the 81st floor.
“I work for the Fuji Bank Limited,” he said. “I’m an assistant vice president in the Loans Operations Department. The company is located on the 79th through 82nd floors.” Praimnath headed over to his desk and picked up his phone to retrieve his messages.
“As I’m standing there retrieving my messages, I’m looking out at the next building, One World Trade, and I saw fire falling through from the roof,” Praimnath said. “Now, this entire building is surrounded by glass, and you can stand up and from there you can see all the buildings, planes and everything flying at the same altitude.”
When American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower, Praimnath began immediate evacuation. He joined others, including the company’s president, the CEO, the human resources director, a temp, and two other gentlemen who all headed to the concourse level of the building.
“The plane appeared to be like 100 yards away, I said ‘Lord, you take control, I can’t help myself here.’ ”
“As soon as we reached the concourse level, the security guard stopped us and said, ‘Where are you going?’ Praimnath told him about the fire and explosion in Tower One.
According to Stanley, the guard said, “Oh, that was just an accident. Two World Trade is secured. Go back to your office.”
Soon after reentering his office, he saw United Airlines Flight 11 heading directly towards him.
“All I can see is this big gray plane, with red letters on the wing and on the tail, bearing down on me,” he said. “But this thing is happening in slow motion. The plane appeared to be like 100 yards away, I said ‘Lord, you take control, I can’t help myself here.’ ”
Stanley then dove under his desk.
“My Testament [Bible] was on top of my desk,” explained Stanley. “I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord was going to take care of me once I got there.”
He curled up into a fetal position under his desk as the plane tore into the side of the building and exploded. The left wing sliced through his office and became lodged in a door 20 feet from him. Praimnath was stuck and covered in debris. He was unable to escape.
“Lord, you take control, this is your problem now,” he prayed.
“I don’t know where I got this power from, but the good Lord, He gave me so much power and strength in my body that I was able to shake everything off,” Praimnath said. “I felt like I was the strongest man alive…Everything I’m trying to climb on is collapsing and I’m going down. I’m getting cuts and bruises, but I’m saying, ‘Lord, I have to go home to my loved ones, I have to make it, You have to help me.’ ”
“Lord, you take control, this is your problem now,” he prayed.
Suddenly Stanley saw the light of a flashlight. For a moment, it stunned him. “What were the chances of someone bringing a flashlight to this floor?,” he thought. “My first gut reaction was, ‘This is my guardian angel–my Lord sent somebody to save me!’ ” Stanley began screaming, “I see the light, I see the light.” But after clawing his way through the debris, he realized that he couldn’t get out–all the exits were blocked and his “guardian angel” couldn’t get to him–a wall was between him and the staircase. “He can’t get to me and I can’t get to him, and by this time I can’t breathe,” Stanley said. “I don’t know if it was sulfur or what [burning jet fuel, perhaps], but I can smell this thing. I got down on my knees and said, “Lord, you’ve got to help me. You’ve brought me this far, help me to get to the staircase.”
Euro Brokers executive Brian Clark, from the 84th floor, and a group of his coworkers were in the stairway assessing if they could descend through the impact zone. They had been told it was impassable. While Clark suddenly heard Praimnath’s faint screams for help. Clark made his way to Praimnath by using his flashlight and following Praimnath’s voice. As Clark was on his way to find Praimnath, he quickly turned back towards his coworkers and saw they had decided to climb up the stairs instead of going down. Because they decided to ascend the stairs, all of Clark’s coworkers were killed, except one.
While praying on his knees, Praimnath saw Clark with the flashlight behind the wall. Together, they were able to get him through a hole they punched out of the wall. “The guy held me and embraced me and he gave me a kiss and he said, ‘From today, you’re my brother for life,’ ” Praimnath recalled.
Praimnath was concerned because his “guardian angel,” Clark, was an older gentleman and there was 81 floors between them and the ground floor.
“We hobbled our way down, and at every floor we stopped to see if anybody was there, but nobody was…, but a man was on the floor, and his back was gone, and he was covered in blood.”
“If I don’t see you, I’ll see you in heaven.”
Eventually they reached the concourse where firefighters were yelling for them to “Run! Run! Run!”
The concourse was surrounded with fire. Wetting themselves under the building’s sprinkler system, they held hands and ran through the flames to safety to Trinity Church about two blocks away. When they reached the gate of the church, they looked back. Praimnath said to Clark, “You know, I think that building can come down.”
Clark replied, “Those are steel structures, there’s no way…”, when he was cut off by the tower’s initial collapse.
“I wanted to go to the church to thank God,” Praimnath said, “As soon as I held onto the gate of that church, the building collapsed.”
At the church, Praimnath gave Clark his business card and said, “If I don’t see you, I’ll see you in heaven.”
Hours later he made it home to his wife Jennifer and his two girls, Stephanie, 8, and Caitlin, 4. “I held my wife and my two children and we cried…I’m so sore, but every waking moment, I say ‘Lord, had you not been in control, I would not have made it.’”
“For some divine reason, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the good Lord’s mighty hand turned the plane a fraction from where I was standing,” said Praimnath. “Because when it crash-landed, it was just 20 feet from me. I don’t care who would rationalize–what people would say now or years from now, but I know it was the handiwork of the Lord that turned that plane. My Lord Jesus is bigger than the Trade Center and His finger can push a plane aside!”