Brian Clark (9/11 attacks survivor)

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Brian Clark (born 1947) is one of the survivors of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. A Canadian, Clark worked for the international brokerage firm Euro Brokers, which lost 61 employees that day, nearly a fifth of its New York branch.[1]

Clark was one of only four people in the South Tower to escape from a floor above the plane's impact. No one escaped above the impact point in the North Tower. Clark's testimony before the 9/11 Commission, where he detailed problems with the 911 emergency call system, has been widely quoted.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Second impact

The second impact occurred at 9:03 a.m. just a few floors below Clark's floor.[9][10][11][12] Clark turned on his fire-warden flashlight and gathered his remaining colleagues, a party of seven. They started down one of the three stairwells. When they got to the 81st floor they encountered two people who were trying to ascend to the roof, where they thought they could get fresher air. The pair of people ascending from the lower floor described the stairs as impassable, blocked by fire and smoke. They tried to convince Clark's party to join them in climbing higher.[13] Those reaching the top floor would have encountered locked doors barring access to the roof (and in any case smoke and heat prevented any helicopter rescue from the roof) and were killed when the tower collapsed.[14]

Rescue of Stanley Praimnath

Clark was called out of this debate when he heard a voice calling for help.[9][15][16][17][18] Some of the drywall that was supposed to enclose the stairwell had fallen away, so Clark and his co-worker, fellow Canadian Ron DiFrancesco left the others to seek out that voice. DiFrancesco was soon overcome by smoke and returned to the stairway by himself.

Stanley Praimnath had been buried under some fallen debris. With Clark's help he was able to extricate himself, and when they returned to the stairwell, the others were already gone, so Clark and Praimnath elected to descend instead of heading upward after them. According to an interview with both of them in a special documentary aired in 2005, Praimnath was so grateful that Clark had rescued him, that he hugged and kissed his savior, rather surprising Clark.


Clark and Praimnath's descent through the floors of the impact was impeded by some debris and smoke, but by removing the debris, it was passable.[9]

It is not generally known that all the internal walls were made of light metal framework holding up thick drywall panels and it was these panels that fractured by the initial impacts and explosions and the twisting and shaking of the Tesla Effect and blocked fire doors and stairwells and then and shattered to make so much of the dust of the collapses.

The airliner that struck the North Tower struck it perpendicular to the north face, its impact severing all the elevators and all three stairwells. The airliner that struck the South Tower struck at an angle. It severed two stairwells but left Stairway A, the one they were using, more or less intact.

A few floors below the impact, they encountered one of Clark's colleagues, José Marrero, ascending and using a walkie-talkie. Marrero had received a call from another of Clark's colleagues above, David Vera, saying his party needed help. Clark tried to convince his colleague not to ascend but Marrero insisted on going higher to help Vera and the others.

At the Skylobby on the 44th floor Clark and Praimnath encountered a Port Authority employee, who was tending to a severely injured tenant. He told them that all the phones were out on that floor. He asked them, when they had access to a working phone, to have someone send an EMT to care for this injured tenant.

The phones were working in Oppenheimer's offices on the 31st floor. Clark was on the telephone for over three minutes before his 911 call was understood. This call might have been the only chance for rescue workers to learn that there was a clear stairwell that the several hundred people trapped above the impact could try to use to escape.

Clark described how he and Praimnath did not feel a sense of urgency, and before calling 911 they each made one brief personal call.

When they got to the ground floor there were rescue workers, and one advised them to run, once they exited onto Liberty Street on the south side of the complex.

Clark described how, when they had gotten about two blocks away, Praimnath told him he thought the buildings were going to go. Clark was skeptical, repeating how solidly built the towers were, but he did not finish his sentence before Tower Two started to collapse.


Praimnath thanked Clark for saving his life.[9] But Clark, in turn, also thanked Praimnath since he felt that the act of going and freeing Praimnath drew him out of a debate that might have ended with him joining the others who went up to their deaths. His Euro Brokers colleague Ron DiFrancesco, who had initially turned around because of the smoke, mustered the strength to resume the descent, and was one of the last people to escape the South tower before its collapse; he awoke three days later in hospital, suffering from extensive burns and a head laceration.[19] All told, they were among only four people who managed to escape from above the impact zone in Tower 2. Richard Fern, a Euro Brokers IT manager, was the fourth.[20]

An additional fourteen escaped from the impact zone itself, mostly from the upper sky lobby which bore the brunt of the impact and left scores dead.

Sixty-one of Clark's co-workers were killed in the incident. Clark was later appointed by his company's management to be President of the Euro Brokers Relief Fund, created to help take financial care of the families of those who were lost. He retired in 2006, a year after Euro Brokers merged with another company.[20]


  1. "Canadian survived 9/11 attacks thanks to instinct, flashlight". CBC News. September 11, 2006.. 
  2. Samuel Bruchey (March 31, 2006). "Family hears son's WTC 911 calls". Chicago Tribune.,1,1820126.story?coll=chi-news-hed. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  3. "Raw emotion marks 9/11 commission hearing: Police, fire chiefs grilled by panelists, booed by families". MSNBC. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  4. "9/11 Calls Reveal Confusion: Dispatchers on Recordings Seem Unsure How to Instruct People Stranded in Twin Towers". ABC News. April 1, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  5. Pam Fessler, Melissa Block (May 18, 2004). "Sept. 11 Panel Focuses on Confusion in New York". All Things Considered,. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  6. York, New (August 18, 2002). "Distant voices, still lives, 08:00-09:35". The Guardian (London).,,776360,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  7. Michael Weissenstein (May 18, 2004). "9/11 Commission Cites Communication Flaws". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  8. "9/11 Commission Cites Communication Flaws Among Rescuers". NewsMax. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "A Survivor's Story". PBS Nova. Archived from the original on 2011-04-01. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  10. Jennifer Silate (2007). Terrorist Attack: True Stories of Survival. Rosen Publishing. pp. 19–22. ISBN 978-1-4042-1001-1. Retrieved 2011-04-01. "Brian Clark worked for Euro Brokers on the eighty-fourth floor of the World Trade Center's South Tower. He was in his office the morning of September 11, 2001. When the first plane hit the North Tower, the lights dimmed and flames filled the view from his office window. He was a fire warden for his floor and had a whistle and flashlight. He grabbed these items and screamed for everyone to leave the office. However the people in the South Tower were instructed to stay inside. They were told they were safe. Everyone in the office was in shock and concerned about what was going on in the North Tower." 
  11. Ryan Mackey (2007). "On Debunking 9/11 Debunking: Examining Dr. David Ray Griffin’s Latest Criticism of the NIST World Trade Center Investigation". Jet Propulsion Lab. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  12. Jean-Jacques Greif. "Nine Eleven". Mapage. pp. 38–40. Retrieved 2011-04-01. "“This man saved my life,” he tells the ministers.
    “I think you saved my life, too,” Brian says. “I was ready to go up when I heard your voice. If you hadn’t called, I would still be in the tower.”"
  13. "Cnn Saturday Morning News". CNN. 2001-02-07. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  14. "WTC ROOF DOORS LOCKED Rudy says copter rescue would have been too risky". Daily News (New York). 2001-10-24. 
  15. Thomas Meyer, José García Morales (2005). Reality, truth and evil: facts, questions and perspectives on September 11, 2001. Temple Lodge Publishing. pp. 118–119. ISBN 978-1-902636-66-5. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  16. John F. Dovidio (2006). The social psychology of prosocial behavior. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-8058-4935-6. Retrieved 2011-04-01. "Other ordinary citizens simply rose to the occasion. Brian Clark, a vice-president for a brokerage firm, heard someone call for help as he struggled down the stairway and found Stanley Prainmath trapped behind a pile of heavy debris." 
  17. Ron Hutchcraft (2007). A Life That Matters: Making the Greatest Possible Difference with the Rest .... Moody Publishers. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-8024-3649-8. Retrieved 2011-04-01. "Meanwhile, Brian Clark had just made it as far as the stairwell outside the 81st floor where he heard Stanley's cries for help. In spite of his vulnerability to dust and smoke because of his asthma and allergies, the broker entered that floor and went to work to free the man trapped in the rubble." 
  18. Laurence Gonzales (2003). Deep survival: who lives, who dies, and why : true stories of miraculous .... W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 76, 172. ISBN 978-0-393-05276-3. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  19. Torrey AndersonSchoepe (2011-08-26). "Final survivor of south tower collapse struggles with scars of 9/11". Yahoo! News. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Robert Kolker (August 27, 2011). "The Encyclopedia of 9/11: Stairwell A: The only way out". New York. 

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