Caroline Dries was a student in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. She started filming the dark smoke coming out of the World Trade Center after hearing an explosion. The horrifying footage she captured would become an iconic piece of documentation for the worst terrorist attack to ever happen on American soil.
On the morning of 9/11, two hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center 18 minutes apart from each other. On the same day, another plane hit the Pentagon in Washington, and the last crashed in Pennsylvania. The disastrous attack killed 2,763 people, including first responders, and injured nearly 10,000.
The footage shows the view Dries has from her dorm room. She’s on the phone with her mom after the first plane had hit one of the towers. “I think it’s like an explosion or something,” She is heard saying and describes the images outside her 200 Water Street window as “unbelievable.” She even compares the rubble seen falling from the building as “what looks like paper.”
After, her roommate is heard turning on the news. That’s where they understand that a plane indeed crashed into the World Trade Center. Both women are discussing whether what is falling from the smoke-filled tower was “a chair,” before witnessing the horror of the second plane crashing makes them scream in fear.
Watch the video Caroline Dries captured from her dorm window on Sept. 11, 2001:
It was that moment that they started figuring out this was not an accident. Upon discerning that a passenger jet had hit the south tower, the two students decided to run out of their apartment in terror. Her roommate is shouting that she didn’t “wanna be on the 32nd story of this building anymore.”
The young woman whose footage of the horrible event became iconic went on to become a television producer. In 2011, Dries gave an interview to CNN reflecting on the horrific event and the clip that would become viral for years to come.
“That feeling of being so vulnerable was so overwhelming; and so, we ran out of the apartment, took the elevator down to the street, and it was just kind of pandemonium with no one knowing what [was] happening,” she explains.
She stated that at the time of filming, she wasn’t aware of how important her recording would become. Dries also said that from time to time, she wished she hadn’t recorded such a traumatic event. “Sometimes I think it would have been nice to have not filmed it—to just have run and let time kind of erase all the details and it would have gone a little faster.”
Debris was still smoldering at ground zero when former NYPD detective John Botte captured these images: http://cbsn.ws/1fZNmGh#September11 #NeverForget #Remember911
However, Dries does recognize the historical importance of her recording. “It took kind of ten years for me to understand why this footage is special,” she told CNN. “People, I think, want to remember the details clearly and to hold onto it because they know how significant it was.”
What happened on 9/11 in New York City was horrible. And as frightening as the footage Dries caught is, the event must be remembered along with the thousands of innocent victims and their families.
Heartbreaking: watch and listen to some of the calls made from the hijacked planes released by TSA: