“That was the first of two times that day I thought I might die,” 9/11 survivor recalls

Billy Forney was on the 85th floor of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit.
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 11:24 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - No matter how many years have passed since the 9/11 attacks, what’s important is that we remember both the lives lost, and the people whose lives were changed forever on that day.

One man whose life will never be the same is Billy Forney, who worked on the 85th floor of the north tower at the World Trade Center. He is WVLT News This Morning Anchor, Harry Sullivan’s cousin.

Sullivan talked to Forney about the day that started off just like any other.

“It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in New York City. Mid to upper 50s crystal blue skies. It was just a normal morning for me. Made it down to the World Trade Center complex around 8:00 am like I always do and... got up to my office around 8:15 and was doing my normal daily chores. And then around, you know 8:46 am after I’d finished everything. I’m sitting with my hands across my head, leaning back in my chair with all of a sudden this horrific explosion occurs,” Forney said. “and it just throws me from my chair onto the ground, onto my knees, and as I struggled to stand up, I realized that this 110 story behemoth, you know that took up an acre footprint in the ground on which I was on the 85th floor was lurching back and forth with what I refer to as sickening vengeance.”

Forney said he thought he was going to die during the chaos.

“So, it’s almost like being on at the top of a roller coaster before it starts to go down you know, your stomach just feels like we are going over and that was the first of two times that day that I thought I might die,” Forney said.

He said that even after 20 years, the only way to cope and to heal is to remember how Americans came together after that fateful day.

“There’s a lot of bad out there in this world, but there’s a lot of good too. I saw it on my descent and escape out of that building. I saw it for months after, after the event. And I want us to never forget what happened, and I want to continue to proceed, and get better as a country and as a nation,” Forney said.

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