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Truck driver captures images of terror



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



Even from three miles, destruction of the World Trade Center was a horrible sight, an eyewitness says.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

WAMPUM, Pa. -- A truck driver who resides here witnessed Tuesday's destruction of the World Trade Center and photographed it from a trucking terminal five miles from the scene.

"I was just thinking about the poor people dying. We had been hearing on the radio of people jumping off" the twin towers, said Larry Morini, 59, a tractor-trailer truck driver for JBJ Enterprises of Ellwood City. He hauls women's clothing on a regular route that includes New York City.

"I was feeling really terrible about it. You get almost overwhelmed by the whole thing -- that somebody could do that to somebody else, fly into a building like that," he added.

"The people on the airplanes that died -- you can imagine them flying into this building. They had to be seeing it coming closer and closer and then hitting the building. That would have to be absolutely terrible," he said. "It was hard to watch it. You're watching it from a 5-mile distance, but there are people dying over there. That's all I could think about. It's just a horrible thing."

The crash of the first plane into the north tower was difficult to explain because the sky was almost cloudless, but when the second plane hit the south tower 18 minutes later, terrorism became the obvious explanation, he noted.

Pictures: From the trucking terminal in Long Island City, Queens, N.Y., Morini took a sequence of photos showing thick clouds of smoke, dust and debris spewing from the 110-story towers as they burned and after the north tower, and then the south, collapsed.

With his cargo loaded, Morini would have been ready to leave the terminal for Ellwood City at 10:30 a.m., but it quickly became obvious that bridges on all of his potential exit routes were closed, and he wouldn't be leaving anytime soon. His cellular phone was useless except for one call he was able to make to his wife, Marianne.

He, another truck driver and a passenger left the terminal in a tractor, looking for a motel with vacancies. While they were searching, pedestrians who had crossed the Queensboro Bridge from Manhattan into Queens hopped on the cab's running boards to shorten their lengthy homebound walks in the city.

Unable to find any available motel rooms, they returned to the terminal, from which Morini was able to depart shortly after 5 p.m., crossing the Throgs Neck Bridge into The Bronx en route to the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey.

Thwarted again: But authorities, reacting to a bomb threat, again closed the bilevel George Washington Bridge, which has 14 lanes, resulting in a major traffic jam and a detour back to The Bronx. There, Morini became lost, and the rig he was driving cleared a low bridge by just inches.

Finally, between 10 and 10:30 p.m., Morini crossed the Hudson River via the Tappan Zee Bridge, about 25 miles north of New York City, and returned to Interstate 80. He then slept for a few hours at a roadside rest area in eastern Pennsylvania before returning to Ellwood City about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"These people -- what are they mad at? What did we do to them? What makes them hate us so much to come and kill us like that? Basically, we try to help these people out, and they're trying to come over here and kill us. I don't really understand it," he said, referring to terrorists.




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