General Question

GeorgeGee's avatar

Has anyone identified any of the people seen in the 9/11 photos jumping from the WTC?

Asked by GeorgeGee (4895 points ) September 11th, 2010

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2010/09/10/129780103/stopping-time-9-11
I think it’s sad if they’re just seen as anonymous jumpers, not responsible working folks with good jobs and families who were put into an impossible situation.

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27 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

What’s really sad is that I don’t believe they were all jumpers. I was watching a show a little while ago on the History Channel and it was playing 911 calls were those people in the upper floors were asking what they should do since they were trapped and they couldn’t breath. Some of them asked if they should try to break the windows. I think some of them probably fell out just trying to get some fresh air. I’m sure some probably did jump though. It saddens me to think how bad things must have been for them to feel that was the better option.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Seaofclouds Do you really think that? That is one of the images from 9/11 that I will never, ever get out of my mind. It just seems so clear from the footage from that day that people jumped out; not that they fell, but they jumped, and they jumped because they had only one choice and that was between jumping and burning alive. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like having to make that choice.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@lillycoyote Yes, I really think some people fell out. I remember seeing pictures of people hanging on, just dangling from their windows. I’m sure some did jump because they didn’t want to burn to death.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@GeorgeGee, I would not want to know if my family member had to endure the terror of the fall, and the impact. Would you? No one was in the towers that was not “a responsible worker.” What else would they be?

GeorgeGee's avatar

It’s the last pictures of these people, If they were my family members, yes I’d want to know, and knowing they jumped would be a tiny bit better than thinking their life was directly snuffed by unknown maniacs.

GladysMensch's avatar

There’s a great documentary called The Falling Man. It’s about the search for the identity of a jumper who’s picture appeared worldwide just after 9/11. Highly recommended.

majorrich's avatar

From what we were finding after the collapse, identification would have been impossible. Pieces parts, clothing and personal effects were all that survived. All mixed together. And the odor was something you don’t forget. I helped carry buckets, and wasn’t involved with the digging during the early recovery operations. Ran out of vacation time and had to come home.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I know of one person who was identified. Her name was Alayne Gentul, who was on the 97th floor of the South Tower. Her story is here, though the CBC spelt her name incorrectly.

GeorgeGee's avatar

Thanks @GladysMensch, I hadn’t heard of that, I’ll watch it.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Either way, their life is snuffed by unknown maniacs. Whether by flames, smoke, collapsing building, instant impact, or jumping, their death all had the same cause.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Seaofclouds In the end it really might just be a matter of semantics; some jumped ; some fell. If you are hanging from a window on the 84th or so story of a building with no hope of rescue that is a choice. You are most likely going to fall. I’m not making any judgement. From some of the things I have read some people seem to take issue with the fact that some people jumped because it was in effect, suicide. I have no issues with that at all. I can’t even imagine how terrible a choice it must have been. If anyone has any issues with whether or not these people committed suicide, and I’m not saying you do, they need to have a better understanding of what was going on there.

Trillian's avatar

I’m glad to know that someone is paying attention o this. The jumpers were what bothered me the most. I remember when the reporters first figured out what that noise was. The horror that I felt as I realized that I had been hearing it and seeing the flashes of the falling people and had not recognized it for what it was is still a shameful remembrance for me. And I remember thinking that in the following days no one really addressed it. When the man in the documentary said what the woman at the coroners office said I was appalled. What could she be thinking to say that no one had jumped? It seemes to me that these people had a horrible choice to make and to say that it did not happen is dishonest, dismissive and diminishing of these victims of circumstance who were forced into a choice more horrifying than I can imagine.
I remember the sculpture too, if no one else does, and the public outcry against it, I feel, is unreasonable. It happened. The sculpture is representative of what happened that day just as much as the heroism of the rescuers. Why deny this part of reality? Why do we need to sanitize everything, stick our heads in the sand and pretend that there is no horror in our lives?
@GladysMensch thank you for this link. I think it is good to recognize these people. They played a part in a play that was not of their choosing, and deserve to have their roles remembered.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@lillycoyote I don’t have any issues with suicide. I think of falling and jumping as two different things. I look at it as who was more at peace at the time. I believe the jumpers would have been more at peace with their decision and their fall than someone that fell simply because the jumpers made the decision and the people that fell did not. In my mind, I picture the ones that fell as being desperate for air, and in an effort to get that air, they stick out the window as much as possible and end up slipping. I feel more sadness for them than I do for jumpers (who I still feel a tremendous amount of sadness for) because they didn’t make an active decision to go out that way. I can only begin to imagine the horror they felt as they slipped out the window and realized what was happening. The people that decided to jump made that decision before they went out the window, so I imagine that they were a lot more at peace with it and I like to believe they were at peace when they went. I don’t make any judgements about any of them. They were all put in an awful position and they did what they felt was best for them at the time. I would never fault anyone for that.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Trillian Something I thought about when I watched that documentary and got to the part about what the coroner said was insurance companies. While we would all hope that insurance companies wouldn’t be dicks at a time like that, I could imagine a greedy insurance company denying a claim because the person jumped and in a sense it could have been seen as suicide. I don’t consider it suicide in any way, but I think we all know how shitty insurance companies can be sometimes.

lillycoyote's avatar

@lillycoyote Well, like you, I feel a tremendous, overwhelming sadness and heartbreak for both the jumpers and the fallers for lack of better terms, but for me, my heart breaks more for the people who chose to jump. What a horrible, horrible choice to make, to choose, in that instant that those kinds of choices are made, to die, knowing that you really had no choice at all. The people who went outside to get air at least spent their last seconds of life in a state of hope and hope is a great comfort. And in the end, neither you nor I nor anyone we love, hopefully, will ever know whether it was better to decide to jump and be done with it or to keep up hope until the very last second.

Nullo's avatar

@Seaofclouds At that point, I don’t think that you’d have much choice. Either death by fire, or death by sudden stop. Sudden stop is at least quicker.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Nullo I agree. I don’t have anything against what those people chose to do. If I’m coming off like I do then let me clarify that right now. My heart breaks every time I think about 9/11 (which is a lot even to this day). I can only imagine being at the point where you know you are going to die and you pick one or the other. I’m not saying anything negative at all. I was just stating that some people fell and some jumped. One report I read said it took about 10 seconds for people to fall. Sure, 10 seconds feels like nothing to most of us, but I bet it felt like a lifetime to them.

Nullo's avatar

@Seaofclouds Worry not, I was attempting to affirm.
I’m opposed to suicide on general principles, but that’s not a typical self-termination scenario.

BarnacleBill's avatar

WTF? How is the sheer terror of jumping to avoid flames any different than the sheer terror of stumbling around through smoke and accidentally falling out a blown-out window? Either way, you’re going 98 stories out a window to disintegrate on the pavement upon impact, your blood and bits of your body parts splattering the pavement and the building next door.

How does anyone not there feel they have the right to be in any way judgmental about one way of dying being “better” than another way of dying. No one arrived at work that morning with the intention of willfully going out the window. The ones that went out the window did so because they feared being burned alive. People that saw people falling outside their windows said that the people were screaming, and there was terror and fear on their faces.

I have two close friends that lost family members on 9/11. One lost her sister-in-law in the first tower that went down; the other had a brother-in-law on the second plane.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Seaofclouds I don’t think you are coming across that way at all, this discussion seems to have gotten a little off track somewhere along with a misunderstanding or two thrown in along the way, one of them possibly mine, I’m not sure:-).

Nullo's avatar

If you were replying to me @BarnacleBill Get ye to my post and read it.
Freezing to death is generally considered to be a better way to die, as is death by a variety of high-velocity impacts, and a lot of work goes into making lethal injections painless. Ever popular is the dying that you do in your sleep.
I oppose suicide on general principles: it is such a waste. As with most general principles, there are exceptions, and pitching yourself out of a window in a doomed skyscraper, with no hope of rescue or safe passage to the ground, is one of them.

GladysMensch's avatar

@Trillian I remember the statue as well. I thought it was a beautiful representation of the jumpers. I didn’t think it was cheap or exploitative. Unfortunately, the memory of the jumpers (and the horror associated with them) was too fresh for the public, especially the citizens of NYC. At that time it seemed like everyone just wanted to focus on the firefighters.

majorrich's avatar

I recall watching a film of Bldg 1 from the lobby and you could hear people hitting the roof of the vestibule. I just pray they weren’t consious when they hit the ground or whatnot.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@majorrich – They were, unfortunately, absolutely conscious. 10 seconds is not enough time to pass out from falling. The saving grace (::sigh::) is that the second they hit the ground, it was oblivion. The force of their landing was such that they probably felt no pain.

Trillian's avatar

@GladysMensch thank you. I have to temper myself about this because I question whether it appeals on some level to my sense of the macabre. I flatter myself that this is not the case and I truly have felt all along that this sub group of victims have been ignored because, as someone in the documentary stated, the way they died makes us uncomfortable. And to @majorrich the only consolation is that it would have been blessedly over in a twinkling.

Pepshort's avatar

I recoil at the statement that someone who decided to jump rather than become incinerated committed suicide. And if even, technically, that act could be described as ‘suicide’, the standard connotation of the term is quite different. There were some who decided to jump to enable their families the opportunity to make a positive identification of their body and to be able to immediately begin the grieving process, rather than leaving their relatives in doubt that there was a chance, albeit small, that they survived. Additionally, some jumped to allow their body to remain intact, enabling a chance for a burial. Humanity should never know from these things again. And thank you, @GladysMensch, for the recommendation of ‘Falling Man’. I watched the first third, and hope to view the remainder. I found it to be moving and informative.

conneeconehead's avatar

I have read first-hand accounts by some survivors. One saw a worker hanging up blinds get blown out of a window (one example is video’d at youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8oXH9TdDuc). I also read another account where people were running down the stairwell and the stairwell ended in thin air. I am deeply saddened that these people had no way out. The doors to the roof were locked and, in some cases, stairways were either destroyed by the impact of the plane There were only three exits per floor and each floor was huge. The WTC decided not to add additional stairwells to the design so they could rent more space. (Reminds me of the Titanic not adding enough lifeboats.) Plus, the jet fuel was burning at upwards of 2,000 degrees? No wonder they jumped. God bless their souls as well as the hearts of their family and friends.

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