Brother safe but hurt, she knows
By CARY DAVIS
© St. Petersburg Times,
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Like so many of us, Marie Pisciotta heard the first report and thought it was a terrible accident. "I thought it was a plane that was trying to land at JFK," she said.
She was in her car, on her way to her telemarketing job in New Port Richey on Tuesday morning, and before she had time to think about what she was hearing, she remembered:
Her brother worked in the World Trade Center.
Pisciotta only knew that her brother, Vincent "Jimmy" Cirelli, a 35-year-old stockbroker with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, worked on the 37th floor. She didn't know which building. Minutes later, it didn't matter.
Just as she walked into work, she learned that another plane had hit the second tower. Then both towers collapsed within minutes of each other.
"I ran out screaming, "My brother! My brother! I have to see if my brother's alive!' "
Once home, she started dialing frantically, trying in vain to get through to her brother's wife and her father, who also lives in New York City. At noon, she finally got through to her father.
"He confirmed that my brother had been at work," recalled Pisciotta, 38. "They didn't know where he was. Nobody had heard from him."
She paced back and forth in front of the television, stopping only to try the phone again -- and to pray. "I didn't know what to do with myself. It was making me want to jump out of my skin," Pisciotta said.
At 3 p.m., the phone rang.
"I thought someone was calling to tell me my brother was gone. I pictured him being crushed under tons of concrete."
It was her father. She dropped to her knees on the tile floor. Jimmy was alive.
Pisciotta still can't believe it. Her brother, she said, was in the tower that was hit second. He tried to evacuate, but the stairwell was packed with people. He made it to the 33rd floor before the building collapsed.
He lived because he landed on bodies, she said. "He was very lucky. Very lucky."
Cirelli, whose wife is pregnant with the couple's first child, was among the first survivors to be pulled from the rubble, Pisciotta said. He was in what was left of the lobby, near the entrance, covered with dust, furniture, and several bodies, she said. A medical student pulled him to safety.
His right leg was broken in three places and he was covered with bruises and cuts. The last Pisciotta heard, her brother was in critical but stable condition at a Manhattan hospital. That was at 7 p.m. Tuesday. As of late Wednesday, she hadn't been able to get through to the hospital or her father for an update.
"I'm still helpless," she said. "I can't get on a plane. I can't go see my brother."
Do you have a loved one missing after Tuesday's attacks in Washington and New York? We would like to hear your story. Please call 727-869-6242 or 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6242.
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