Lieutenant Steve Terulli & Lieutenant John Citarella

From the April 2002 Firehouse Magazine

Lieutenant Steve Terulli Rescue 1 - 11 years (Instructor at Rescue School on 9/11)

Lieutenant John Citarella Squad 252 - 13 years (Instructor at Rescue School on 9/11)

We heard Marine 6 give an urgent message that a second plane hit the tower. We responded to Squad 41 to get gear. We arrived and met Chief Fred Sheffold and Joe Marchbanks, both from the 12th Battalion.

We saw six people jump from the north side of Tower 1. There were four or five cars on fire near the south side of Tower 2. We heard that a jumper hit a firefighter from Engine 216. All four of us ran into the lobby entrance of the hotel from Liberty and West streets. We met Deputy Chief Tom Galvin in the hotel lobby. Engine 58 was there with their rolled-up hoses.

We were ordered to the 90th floor in the south tower. The deputy said take Engine 58 with you and start walking up. Chief Sheffold said, did you say 90? Sheffold said, hold on. Just then, the south tower collapsed onto the hotel. It sounded like a train noise.

I made a ball, but when I got hit I flattened right out. I tried giving a Mayday three or four times. It took five minutes for me to get out from under the debris. I saw Chief Stack from the Safety Battalion. There was a pile of debris up to the ceiling of the lobby, which reached 20 feet high. I heard someone calling for help. We took a roll call. Lieutenant Citarella was pinned under a large pile of debris. I started to tunnel in to remove him. Pipes, sheetrock, insulation, wood and brickwork were passed out to Chief Stack and his aide. I asked the chief for a sawzall and to transmit a Mayday. He said there wasn’t anyone else around.

I backed out of the tunnel I had made to get my mask. I pushed the mask in front of me and gave the facepiece to John. He could now breathe easier. There was a six-by-six-foot I-beam on his leg. I was able to move the beam one half inch. John was able to back out on his belly. He gave me a kiss, and I said welcome back.

The chief said, let’s get out of here. We walked out towards the north tower. We came out near a four-foot-high wall. Chiefs Peter Ganci and Ray Downey, Deputy Commissioner Feehan and Captain Al Fuentes were in the middle of West Street. Chief Brian O’Flaherty of Safety was injured. We helped him over the wall. Downey came over and told us to report to Chief Ganci now. Downey stayed with Stack. There was a civilian with a leg injury and both chiefs stayed with the man. We crossed what was left of the street. We fell down a few times.

When we reached Ganci, he said to me, let me use your radio. Feehan couldn’t believe his eyes that we made it out of the hotel. The radio didn’t work. Ganci said go north. We ran north on West Street for about 25 yards and the north tower started to collapse. We were maybe 15 yards past the north pedestrian bridge when the air knocked me down under a tow truck. Dust got into my eyes, ears and mouth.

After a while, the sun started to come through the dust and smoke because the tower was down. I saw a few fighter jets fly by. I could hear explosions and heard ammunition going off.