Families Hear Twin Towers 911 Calls

WTC -- 9-11 --- A jet airliner is a moment before crashing into one of New York's World Trade Center twin towers, Sept. 11, 2001. AP

The call came in at 8:50 a.m. — four minutes after the first plane struck the World Trade Center.

"Yeah. Hi. I'm on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center. We just had an explosion on the, on the like 105th floor."

It was Christopher Hanley, 35, who was attending a conference at the restaurant Windows on the World on the morning of Sept. 11. 2001 — one of 28 people whose emergency calls from the trade center are scheduled to be released in edited form Friday in response to a court order.

The calls will include only the voices of the emergency operators. An appeals court ruled last year that the words of the callers should be confidential, but on Wednesday a judge ordered the Fire Department to release the names of the 28 people who are identified by name in the tapes.

Listen to Christopher Hanley's 911 call.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard F. Braun issued the order Wednesday at the request of The New York Times and reporter Jim Dwyer after hearing arguments that releasing the names of 27 people killed at the trade center and one survivor would not violate privacy interests.

The Early Show's Harry Smith reports that the calls were made available to nearly 30 individuals' families.

The city plans to release the tapes of about 130 calls to 911 tomorrow. City attorneys say they'll appeal the ruling immediately.

The judge said the caller's names and other identifying information were to be provided with the tapes and transcripts in a way that lets the Times identify where the edited material came from.

Norman Siegel, who represented some of the September 11th families who also sought access to the information, says their goal is to get as much information as possible.

Family members of three victims obtained the tapes from the city — with their loved ones' voices not edited out — and listened to them with a Times reporter present, according to a story that appeared in Thursday's Times.

Hanley's parents, Joe and Marie Hanley, said they had at first decided not to listen to the tape but changed their minds, according to the Times.

On the tape, Christopher Hanley, who worked for Radianz, then a division of Reuters, spelled out his last name and said, "We have smoke and it's pretty bad." The 911 operator connected him to the Fire Department.

"Sit tight," the fire dispatcher said. "Do not leave, OK? There is a fire or an explosion or something in the building. All right? I want you to stay where you are."

The dispatcher told Hanley to keep the windows open, and he responded, "We can't open the windows unless we break them."

"OK," the dispatcher said. "Just sit tight. Just sit tight. We're on the way."

"All right," Hanley said. "Please hurry."

In the Times' Portraits of Grief, Hanley is said to have been a son who called his parents every morning. "At the request of a friend, he had recently agreed to be the godfather of the child of a couple he had never met," his profile reads.

Hanley's parents told the Times they were proud of their son for remaining calm on the tape.

"He was strong and thinking so clearly and beautifully," Marie Hanley said. "Patient with the Fire Department and 911. It brought everything back up again."

  • Christine Lagorio

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