John McLoughlin and William Jimero
Survivors Whose Story Is Told by World Trade Center
The rescue and lives of John McLoughlin and William Jimeno is the subject of Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. Both are two Port Authority policemen, now retired, who attempted to evacuate the Twin Towers on the morning of the attack. Then-Sergeant McLoughlin had been with the Port Authority 24 years, 12 at the World Trade Center.
As the attack started, McLoughlin was on duty at at the
Port Authority bus terminal, a few miles north of the World Trade Center.
McLoughlin rushed to the Center when he received news of the attack.
He assembled a team of four other Port Authority officers,
Antonio Rodrigues, 35,
Dominick Pezullo, 36,
and William Jimeno, 33.
Chris Amoroso, 29, a friend of Jimeno, later joined the team.
He had already carried people to safety.
The four changed into their fire gear and followed McLoughlin
through the underground concourse.
When they were between the two Towers,
they heard an explosion marking the descent of the
which McLoughlin described as sounding like "car bombs going off"
and a "wall of destruction rolling at us".
The South Tower's debris killed Amoroso and Rodrigues, but McLoughlin managed to lead Jimeno and Pezullo to cover in the vicinity of a freight elevator within the 15 seconds that it took the Tower to come down. McLoughlin and Jimeno were trapped, but Pezullo managed to get free. Instead of climbing out to safety, he chose to stay and attempt to free his fellow officers. That act of selflessness cost him his life: when the North Tower came down, a piece of concrete struck and mortally wounded Pezullo. As Pezzulo lay dying he spoke with Jimeno. Jimeno said "Dominick, I'll never forget." After Pezzulo went quiet, Jimeno said to McLoughlin, "Sarge, this is bad."
The fall of the North Tower had buried the men about 30 feet below the surface and crushed McLoughlin's legs. Jimeno was about 20 feet away from McLoughlin, and they could not see each other. Fire was encroaching on the hole that Jimeno was trapped in, and enveloped Pezullo's gun causing it to start firing.
McLoughlin and Jimeno were in incredible pain from the injuries to the parts of their bodies pinned under heavy rubble. The two men joked about how good pain is because it means you're still alive.
Jimeno, who was closer to the surface, attempted to get the attention of rescuers. He yelled, and banged on a pipe with his hadcuffs. He tried to fire his pistol, but his hands were too swollen to operate it.
About an hour after nightfall, and 10 hours into their ordeal, Jimeno heard voices and yelled back. Several rescuers began to work digging out the trapped men, and they reached Jimeno by about 11 pm. They extracted him and sent him to the hospital. McLoughlin was buried deeper, and it took until about 7 am to free him. Jimero had been trapped for 13 hours and McLoughlin for 21 hours.
McLoughlin and Jimeno were among only four survivors pulled from the rubble by rescue teams. Only Genelle Guzman spent longer in the rubble -- 27 hours.
The rescuers included Marine Corps Staff Sergeant David Karnes
and Sergeant Thomas,
New York City police officers Scott Strauss and Paddy McGee,
Det. John Busching,
Emergency Services officers Paddy McGee and Scott Strauss,
paramedic Chuck Sereika,
and firefighter Tom Asher.
McLoughlin's injuries were so severe that doctors at Bellevue Hospital
doubted he would survive.
He was in a coma for six weeks, during which doctors
performed 27 operations on his legs.
His recovery has included arduous physical therapy.
Jameno's hospitalization and rehabilitation went on for nearly three months.