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A thud, then a sprint to safety

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2001

Duane McAdoo had intended to hand a letter of resignation to his bosses at the World Trade Center on Tuesday.

Duane McAdoo had intended to hand a letter of resignation to his bosses at the World Trade Center on Tuesday.

But McAdoo, a 43-year-old investment adviser for Valley Forge Securities, never got the chance. He was forced to flee from the 39th floor of 1 World Trade Center after an airplane crashed into it.

McAdoo heard a thud and felt the northern trade tower shimmy as it was struck by an American Airlines jetliner a few minutes before 9 a.m. Then came the fire alarm and the order to evacuate. McAdoo and 75 to 100 workers from the 39th floor scurried down the stairs, still unaware that the 110-story building had been hit by an airplane.

Outside, McAdoo learned of the first airplane crash, then heard a second plane crashing into the southern tower and looked up to see fire enveloping the upper floors of both buildings.

As he recounted the story from a pay phone five blocks away at lunchtime, McAdoo remained covered with dust and ash.

He said he still intends to leave his job at the office building that disappeared Monday. He said he has a better offer from another securities firm about three blocks from the twin trade towers.

"I looked at the towers every day as American landmarks," he said. "Now, in this spot, these buildings are no longer there. It's devastating."


'Our lives will not be the same'

J. Kenneth Parker spent Tuesday morning dialing and redialing in an attempt to reach friends and associates in New York City.

Parker, 58, president of World Trade Center Tampa Bay, made at least 20 calls. He never got through.

"I've tried my best; I can't reach anyone at all," Parker said from his St. Petersburg home.

"The headquarters of our company was on the 60th floor of one of the towers. There's no doubt it's gone now."

World Trade Center Tampa Bay is one of 365 licensed franchises of the World Trade Center parent company destroyed in New York by terrorists Tuesday. The local company, at 1101 Channelside Drive in Tampa, works with businesses involved in international commerce.

Parker was asked if he had begun calling the homes of associates who had worked at the 29-year-old twin trade towers. He said he "didn't have the heart to."

"I can imagine now what my father must have felt like on Pearl Harbor Day," he said. "I think our lives will not be the same from this point on."


Prayer services planned

ST. PETERSBURG -- Several local prayer services have been scheduled in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States. The following is a list of some of them:

Community prayer service, 7 tonight, Lutheran Church of the Cross, 4545 Chancellor St. N (at the corner of Overlook Drive and Chancellor).

Prayer service, 7 tonight, Christ United Methodist Church, 467 First Ave. N.

Prayers of Memorial and Prayers of Peace, 8 tonight, Temple Beth-El, 400 Pasadena Ave. S.

Community gathering and multimedia service with song, scripture and prayer, 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Christ United Methodist Church, 467 First Ave. N

Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the Ministerial Association of Greater St. Petersburg community interfaith service, 4 p.m. Sunday, Pasadena Community Church, 112 70th St. S.


Fort Myers woman was on jet

One of the first Florida residents to be identified as a victim of Tuesday's attacks was Cee Cee Ross Lyles of Fort Myers, the wife of a police officer.

Lyles, 34, woke her husband, Lorne Lyles of the Fort Myers Police Department, Tuesday morning with a cell phone call from United Airlines Flight 93 shortly before it crashed outside Pittsburgh. She was a flight attendant aboard the plane.

Fort Myers police spokeswoman Kara Winton would not release details of the call, other than to say it was confirmed Mrs. Lyles "was on the plane being hijacked." Records show the couple were married May 1, 2000, in Tampa.


'We don't even know who did it'

CONCORD, N.C. -- With no customers to serve, the two waitresses at the Waffle House stared at the television that had been their window on a horror hundreds of miles to the north.

"I'm bumfuzzled," said Mickie Fruth, 56. "Just to think that it could be done. They hit us in the two worst spots they could: money and military."

In restaurants, gas stations, airport lounges from Atlanta through the Carolinas, Americans throughout the Southern heartland felt the reverberations of the morning's terrorist attacks.

Confusion and annoyance over canceled flights at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport quickly gave way to anxiety. The vast cell phone network struggled to handle the desperate calls.

Highways into Atlanta were typically heavy with traffic, but the large message boards did not report delays. They carried news of a national emergency.

By early afternoon, flags had been lowered to half staff at car dealerships along Interstate 85 around Greenville, S.C. Christian radio stations broadcast biblical passages and commentators took comfort from their knowledge that "(National Security Adviser) Condoleezza Rice is a woman of faith."

Expressions of remorse were followed by cries for vengeance.

His hand on the gas pump, blue work pants slick with grease, Chad Taylor, 20, said the United States' response should be hard and fast.

"We got to show them we're not going to take any junk like that," he said.

Who is them? he was asked.

"Right, we're in outrage and we don't even know who did it."


Customers feeling guilty

Even before Sears opened at Tampa's University Mall at 10 a.m., people converged on the store's home entertainment section. Salesman Justin Moore, who arrived at 9 a.m., turned on extra television sets because fellow Sears employees were crowding so tightly around the first sets that were operating.

Until University Mall closed at 2 p.m., 35 sets operated and grim-faced semicircles of viewers ranging from 10 to 30 in number watched the news.

"Business has been at a standstill," Moore said. "People feel guilty asking you for help."


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