BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- When terrorists flew a plane into the World Trade Center on 9/11, Cockeysville businessman Steve Peck barely made it out alive. Recently, he made an emotional journey back to the site and saw the 9/11 Memorial for the first time.
Vic Carter was there.
September 11, 2001, was a fateful day in the life of Baltimore County business executive Steve Peck. He was in New York for a meeting in the North Tower of the World Trade Center---Ground Zero for the worst terrorist attack in our nation's history.
"I'll never forget. It was a morning not unlike today---beautiful, sunny day, cool. We walked in about 20 after eight. Of course, what an amazing turn of events that was because the plane hit right around 90," Peck said.
He had no idea al Qaeda had flown a Boeing 767 right into the side of the building. In the terrifying chaos that followed, everyone ran for their lives.
"And then it was, how fast can we run down 63 flights of stairs and that's where we were at about that point. Thinking again we were probably going to run into smoke and fire," Peck said.
WJZ has kept in touch with Peck for the past 13 years and he invited us to go with him on this emotional journey to the newly opened 9/11 Memorial.
"You just immediately reflect to see the names on the perimeter of those who passed away that day, who gave their lives to make sure guys like me were safe," he said.
Peck also took his children to the memorial.
"They were so young; they didn't really understand what I had been through and I wanted to make sure they understood what this meant," he said. "Never forget."
Inside the museum is 110,000 square feet of exhibition space dedicated to telling the story of 9/11 and honoring every victim.
"Every day there's risks," Peck said. "I felt like there's still more to do on this earth."
As they moved through the exhibit, photographs drew Peck back to that day: the relief, then horror he felt when he miraculously made his way out of the burning building and onto the streets of New York City.
"I'll never forget kind of this eerie sound that happened---it was like the collective gasp of 100,000 people. It was really strange and like a 60 or 70-story cloud of dust hitting the buildings on Broadway and then just coming north toward us and then we went, `Oh my God, the tower came down. How awful' and now we just started running as fast as we could at that point, just trying to get away from the dust cloud," he said.
Part of the museum has pictures of all the victims' faces. Cameras weren't allowed in. Vic believes it's the most emotional room in the memorial.
"And it's a lot of...so many faces, so much promise, so much life ahead that we'll never know. And all we can do is try to honor those lives," Peck said. "Any way we can."
Every time Peck is in New York, he stops by a fire station and delivers donuts. He says he owes all first responders a debt of gratitude he will never forget.
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