Photographer David Handschuh Hunts for His 9/11 ‘Guardian Angel’

Twenty years after he was rescued from the rubble of the World Trade Centers, photojournalist David Handschuh has pieced collectively all however one a part of the day he practically died.

As he stood on a nook in downtown Manhattan photographing United Airways Flight 175 crashing into the South Tower, all 110 flooring of the constructing all of the sudden got here tumbling down in the direction of him. Handschuh, who was working for the New York Each day Information, was blown off his toes and buried below a crush of glass, concrete, and an enormous metal beam. With one leg shattered, the opposite too broken to face on, and dirt filling his throat, Handschuh tried to yell for assist.

“Don’t fear, brother, we’ll get you out,” Lieutenant Tommy Michel replied by way of the haze. A bunch of firefighters from Engine Co. 217 who had been desperately trying to find two colleagues separated amid the collapse pulled Handschuh from the rubble. Jeff Borkowski and Phil McArdle, from Hearth Division HAZ-MAT 1, then scooped him up and carried him to a deli in Battery Park, putting him on the dusty tiled flooring amongst tender drinks and chip packets.

There, he heard the voice of Charlie Wells, a FDNY paramedic chief he knew, asking if anyone wanted one thing to drink. “Get me a Snapple,” Handschuh replied.


New York Each day Information Archive

Moments later, because the second tower fell, a police officer named Jim Kelleher lay on prime of Handschuh so his helmet and bulletproof vest would defend Handschuh if the deli’s glass window was blown in. After the mud settled, Wells, Kelleher, and a 3rd man carried Handschuh to an ambulance in a frenzied rescue captured by Each day Information photographer Todd Maisel .

An NYPD captain named Terri Tobin then held Handschuh’s hand within the ambulance and referred to as his household to inform them he was alive.

However, for 20 years, the identification of that third man, a firefighter with neat gray hair who appears to be like to be in his late 40s or early 50s, has remained a thriller.

“I do know seven people who find themselves my guardian angels, however who was that final particular person?” Handschuh, now 62, advised The Each day Beast on Friday, a day earlier than the twentieth anniversary of the assaults that modified America.

“I do know each different one that helped save my life. We discuss recurrently, we cry, we snigger, we run into one another on September eleventh yearly for 19 years. And there’s no cause that one particular person shouldn’t be a part of that.”

Within the years after 9/11, Handschuh confirmed Maisel’s images to the FDNY, varied hearth division unions, and different first responders who had been close by that day. Sometimes individuals thought they acknowledged the person, however leads fizzled out and life went on.

He has contemplated the likelihood that the third man died that day, or maybe within the years after from the poisonous mud. If that’s the case, he needs to have the ability to thank the person’s household no less than.

It’s exhausting for Handschuh to place into phrases the sensation of assembly, and thanking, somebody who saved your life. Humbling, embarrassing, and grateful don’t appear to chop it. Borkowsky and McArdle have advised Handschuh that he saved their lives; in the event that they hadn’t carried him again to the Battery Park deli, they’d have been within the North Tower when it collapsed.

Tobin, who was badly injured with a damaged ankle, a chunk of cement embedded in her crushed helmet, and a shard of glass caught in her again, joked that she was weirdly comforted to take a look at Handschuh within the ambulance as a result of “you had been far more fucked up than I used to be.”

“Not certainly one of them have a look at themselves as heroes,” he mentioned.

However, it nonetheless niggled Handschuh that he was a journalist with an incomplete story. In order the twentieth anniversary approached, he figured it was time to make one final push to search out his eighth guardian angel.

“Assist me discover one of many firefighters who helped save my life,” he captioned posts on Instagram and Twitter this week, hoping the facility of the web would possibly lastly present the lacking hyperlink.

“All my rescuers, all my angels get collectively on September 11,” Handschuh advised The Each day Beast. “And this 12 months it’s time to provide him a hug and say, Thanks.’” | Photographer David Handschuh Hunts for His 9/11 ‘Guardian Angel’


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