Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, began like any other day for Bethel Assembly of God deacon and Sunday school superintendent Stanley Praimnath of Elmont, Long Island. He got up early, took a shower, prayed, got ready and headed for work. The drive was uneventful. The train ride was the same. Yet, this day he would see the hand of God spare his life.
"For some particular reason, I gave the Lord a little extra of myself that morning [during prayer]," Stanley said. "I said, 'Lord, cover me and all my loved ones under your precious blood.' And even though I said that and believed it, I said it over and over and over."
When Stanley arrived at World Trade Center Tower Two, he took the elevator up to his office on the 81st floor. "I work for the Fuji Bank Limited," he said. "I'm an assistant vice president in the loans operations department. The company is located on the 79th through 82nd floors."
Stanley greeted Delise, a woman who had arrived before him. After talking briefly, he headed over to his desk and picked up his phone to retrieve his messages.
"As I'm standing there retrieving my messages, I'm looking out at the next building, One World Trade, and I saw fire falling from the roof," Stanley said. "Now, this entire building is surrounded by glass, and you can stand up and from there you can see all the buildings, planes and everything flying at the same altitude."
As Stanley saw "fire balls" coming down, his first reaction was to think of his boss who works in that building. He decided to try to call him to see if he was OK. "I'm dialing his number, and getting no response. So, I say to Delise, the temp, 'Go, go, go -- let's get out.'"
Delise and Stanley got on the elevator and went down to the 78th floor. Some other people were there. The company's president, the CEO, the human resources director and two other men joined the group and headed down to the concourse level of Two World Trade Center.
If they had continued on and exited the building, all of their lives would have been spared. As it was, that's not the way it happened.
"As soon as we reached the concourse level, the security guard stopped us and said, 'Where are you going?' Stanley explained about seeing the fire in Tower One. According to Stanley, the guard said, "Oh, that was just an accident. Two World Trade is secured. Go back to your office."
That turned out to be fatal advice -- aside from Stanley, Delise was the only one of that group to survive.
"We were joking, and I told [Human Resources Director] Brian Thompson, 'This is a good time to think of relocating this building -- it's not safe anymore.'" Stanley headed back to his office, but before he got there, he told Delise, that with the events of the day, she should go home and relax.
Thompson went to the 82nd floor, the president and CEO went to the 79th floor and Stanley got out on the 81st floor. When Stanley got to his office, his phone was ringing. "It was someone from Chicago calling to find out if I'm watching the news," he said. He told the caller everything "was fine."
But everything wasn't fine -- far from it. As Stanley was talking, he looked up and saw United Air Lines Flight 175 heading straight for him.
Out of Control
"All I can see is this big gray plane, with red letters on the wing and on the tail, bearing down on me," said Stanley. "But this thing is happening in slow motion. The plane appeared to be like 100 yards away, I said 'Lord, you take control, I can't help myself here.'"
Stanley then dove under his desk. "My Testament [Bible] was on top of my desk," explained Stanley. "I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord was going to take care of me once I got there." As he curled into a fetal position under his desk, the plane tore into the side of the building and exploded.
Miraculously, Stanley was unhurt. However, he could see a flaming wing of the plane in the doorway of his department. He knew he needed to get out of his office and the building fast. But, he was trapped under debris up to his shoulders.
"Lord, you take control, this is your problem now," he recalled praying. "I don't know where I got this power from, but the good Lord, He gave me so much power and strength in my body that I was able to shake everything off. I felt like I was the strongest man alive."
All the while, Stanley was asking the Lord to spare his life. "I'm crying and I'm praying, 'Lord, I have things to do. I want to see my family, Lord, help me through.'"
Stanley's office resembled a battle zone -- walls flattened into dusty heaps, office equipment strewn violently, flames flickering about and rubble everywhere.
"Everything I'm trying to climb on [to get out] is collapsing and I'm going down," he said. "I'm getting cuts and bruises, but I'm saying, 'Lord, I have to go home to my loved ones, I have to make it, You have to help me.' "