Watch CBS News

Remembering 9/11: Survivor Vinny Borst recalls the horrors as he struggled to escape World Trade Center

Remembering 9/11: Survivor Vinny Borst on his memories of the day
Remembering 9/11: Survivor Vinny Borst on his memories of the day 05:08

NEW YORK - As we remember and honor the victims of 9/11, we also remember the survivors. 

There were thousands of people who were in those towers who managed to get out. 

"I can close my eyes and recite that entire day, and actually see it," said survivor Vinny Borst. 

It all comes back to Borst. Each moment playing like a horror movie in his head.

"It's something that lives with me, good or bad. But it's something I never forget," Borst told CBS2's Dick Brennan. 

Borst was an MTA project manager on the 82nd floor of the north tower at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001. 

"All of a sudden, there was a large explosion. The building started to sway back and forth enough where I had to grab a hold of myself and regain my footing and the building finally settled down and as I looked up, I saw debris coming down," Borst said. 

He immediately scrambled to find a way out and the way down, but there would be many obstacles along the way.

"It's like a scene out of 'The Towering Inferno,' and you come out in the corridor and there was flames all over the place," Borst said. 

At 9:30 a.m. a second plane hit the south tower of the World Trade Center. 

At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. 

And at 9:59 a.m., Borst had just made his way down 82 floors of the North Tower - a trip that took an hour and ten minutes - only to face the South Tower coming down around him. 

"Soon as I got through the revolving door and into the mall, that's when I heard a loud, loud mass, and a big, black smoky soot coming at me. Unfortunately it was Tower Two coming down. I didn't know it at the time," Borst said. 

"You literally walked right out into it," Brennan said. 

"Walked right out into it... at that moment, because I couldn't see. Eyes opened or closed, it was like the same. Like bags of concrete coming down on the top of your head," Borst said. 

As Borst struggled to make his way through the soot, another agonizing chapter was unfolding in the skies across the nation. United Flight 93 had been hijacked out of Newark Airport. 

At 10:03 a.m., the brave passengers took matters into their own hands and stormed the cockpit. The plane went down in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

For Borst, there was one more horror to endure. At 10:28 a.m., he was staring at the still standing and still burning North Tower when the unthinkable happened again. 

"That's when Tower One began to implode, really," Borst said. 

"Right in front of you," Brennan said. 

"Right in front me, and I ran. My body was shaking. I've never been that scared in my life," Borst said. "They tell you when you close your eyes, you think you're going to die, your life passes [in front of you] - it did. It passes, and I just... I pulled that 'Incredible Hulk' thing, I got rid of the fear, and turned it to anger, so I had the strength to get out. It was not easy. It was not." 

That day, the FDNY lost 343 members. The NYPD 23 police officers, and 37 members of the Port Authority Police died.

Borst still grieves for the people he lost, 21 years later. 

"My closest friend Eddie Strauss," Borst said. "We mourned, and we swore that we would never forget, whether it was here, or in Pennsylvania, or in D.C. An attack like that on our soil, and our innocent people dying. It's heartbreaking." 

"Never forget," Brennan said. 

"Never forget," Borst said. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.