Woman, Dog Guide Blind Man Down 70 WTC Floors
|Updated: Fri, Sep 14 6:40 AM EDT|
By Jason Webb
BOGOTA (Reuters) - A blind Colombian man accompanied by his
faithful dog was led to safety by his female boss down 70
flights of a narrow emergency staircase of a tower of the World
Trade Center after it was slammed by a hijacked plane.
Seated with his golden Labrador retriever guide dog beside
him, Omar Eduardo Rivera told Caracol television and radio on
Thursday how two days earlier he fled down the stairs for more
than an hour with his hand on the unnamed woman's shoulder.
He unleashed the dog to let it escape, but with glass
falling around them, the animal led him to an emergency exit
and stayed by his side as a crowd of people descended the
stairs to escape the building which collapsed soon afterward.
Computer worker Rivera was in his office on the 71st floor
of the one of the trade center's twin towers on Tuesday, his
dog underneath his desk, when suicide hijackers crashed a jet
into the 110-story building some 25 floors above him.
"I stood up and I could hear how pieces of glass were
flying around and falling," Rivera, said in a quiet voice in a
peaceful garden somewhere in New York. "The dog was very
nervous, and he ran off but came back and kept by my side. He
At the emergency exit, his boss led him down the stairs.
"I took hold of her arm. She went down on my right side and
the dog on my left. When it became narrow and people were
pushing and shoving more, she went in front and I just held on
to her shoulder," said Rivera, who is from Bogota, the capital
of Colombia, which is fighting a war on leftist guerrillas.
"At first there was panic, and some people tried to run and
go first. But really most people behaved quite prudently and
grasped what was happening, so we walked down in an orderly
fashion, but it was slow-going."