Families making some painful '9/11' calls public
(Lower Manhattan-WABC, March 30, 2006) (WABC) -- More then 20 people dialed 9-1-1 from inside the twin towers on September 11, 2001 and connected with emergency dispatchers. Now, the city is being forced to release audio recordings of those calls. It will edit out the voices of the victims before it complies with a court order tomorrow. And, just hours before the release of the tapes, city leaders are still fighting to try to keep the names of the victims from the public.
Still, we are starting to hear what's on some of those tapes, including the voices of those lost that day, because some families are deciding to make the full audio public.
Some of that unedited material is already being made available on the New York Times web site. They're recordings that stir up haunting memories from that very difficult day.
Please be advised that the tapes are disturbing and that the families gave Eyewitness News permission to give a glimpse of these tapes.
Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Rossen has the story.
Christopher Hanley's family decided to put the tapes out so the public might understand what their son went through. Officials say Hanley was one of the first people to get through to the 9-1-1 system that day.
FDNY Operator: "Fire department 408, where's the fire?"
Christopher Hanley: "Yeah. Hi. I'm on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center."
Hanley called 9-1-1 just four minutes after the plane hit his tower.
Christopher Hanley: "Yeah, there's smoke and we have about 100 people up here."
FDNY: "Sit tight. Do not leave, okay? there is a fire or an explosion or something in the building. All right? I want you to stay where you are."
Hanley was just minutes from death, but he was so calm.
FDNY: "All right, we're there. We're coming up to get you."
Christopher Hanley: "I can see the smoke coming up from outside the windows down?"
There are more than two dozen calls like this one. The city was ordered to release the names of all the callers, but will only include the audiotape of the 9-1-1 operators' voices. The individual family members of those who dialed 9-1-1 that day have the right to release the entire audio if they want.
Christopher Hanley's family already did.
FDNY: "We're on the way, sir."
Christopher Hanley: "Ok. Please hurry."
FDNY: All right, just keep the windows open. It's going to be awhile because there's a fire going on downstairs. "
Christopher Hanley: "We can't open the windows unless we break them. "
FDNY: "Okay. Just sit tight. Just sit tight. We're on the way."
Christopher Hanley: "All right...Please hurry."
The City of New York's law department has been in court trying to fight the release, both of the tapes themselves and the victims names, saying they wanted to try to maintain the victims' privacy. The judge sad no, they have to release the names and at least a portion of the tapes.
Then, late Thursday afternoon, city officials took another stab, appealing to the court again to try to prevent the release of the victims' names.
We'll have the latest on Eyewitness News and on 7online.com as the story develops overnight and on Friday.
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