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Man saw tower fall, calls city an eerie sight



Published: Thu, September 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



GREENVILLE, Pa. -- A Hempfield Township couple's son who is a frequent visitor to the World Trade Center saw one of the twin towers fall as he drove to his office in Bayonne, N.J., Tuesday morning.

John Oates, 45, president of the Port Police and Guards Union in New York City, said he frequently visits a union office on the 20th floor of the World Trade Center but wasn't scheduled to stop there Tuesday.

He was to have a meeting there today.

Oates is the son of Michael and Joan Oates, who moved to Hempfield Township from New York about 20 years ago.

The scene in New York was very eerie Wednesday, he said, noting there was very little traffic and very few people on the streets. Broadcast photos of Times Square showed it virtually deserted, he said.

"No one knows what' s happening. It's scary," he said.

Oates, who grew up in Brooklyn, said he was on Route 22 East on his way back to New Jersey and was about five or six miles from Manhattan when he saw the second of the two towers collapse.

The union office in the World Trade Center had about 40 people in it when the first airplane hit, he said, noting that all of those people were able to get out safely.

Some other friends and business associates may not have been so lucky.

Oates said some of them were on about the 100th floor, above where the plane hit. Their whereabouts were unknown as of Wednesday, he said.




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