9/11 Survivor's Life Changed After Terror Attack

Barbara Schwarz
September 11, 2018 - 5:53 am
Smoke Pours From The World Trade Center After Being Hit By Two Planes September 11 2001

Photo By Craig Allen/Getty Images

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DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - A survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has made it his life work to pay tribute to his rescuers, by becoming one himself.

Sujo John now lives in North Texas.  He used to live in New York, and 17 years ago he was at his desk on the 81st floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center.

"At 8:46 in the morning I'm standing by the fax machine when I hear this incredible explosion.  That was American flight 11 flying from Boston to LA. It came crashing in.  Part of the wing of the plane tore through our floor."

What followed was smoke and fire.  It took him an hour and 20 minutes to make it down the stairwell. He says he got to the concourse level, hoping to find his pregnant wife, Mary who worked on the 71st floor of the south tower. 

"And in a way that's where my story really begins.  The ground begins to shake and the South Tower collapses around me.  I thought I was going to die.  After about 20 minutes, I felt someone pull me and I began to pull him.  He said he was with the FBI.  So we both told each other we were going to die.  We could hardly breathe and were choking on all the soot and the ash, covered with glass."

He says that's when something miraculous happened, they saw a flashing red light which led both of them out of that pit.  Then FBI agent then ran back in to get more people.

"He turns around and run into the North Tower, which was still standing.  The ground shakes, the North Tower comes down.  This brave American died that day.  He's actually the only FBI agent to have died."

John assumed his wife was dead.  He says unknown to him, she was late to work by two minutes.  She was on the last train that made it's way to the basement of the towers.  By then the North Tower was hit and she saw the second plane hit the South Tower.  He says a woman came out of nowhere, grabbed Mary and got her to safety.

He says they stayed in New York for a couple more years, but post 9/11 his life had a different meaning. "I just wanted to do something different with my life.  God started opening doors for me to travel with my story.  I fell in love with Texas."

In 2010 he started a foundation that rescues people, just the way he was rescued.

"So we have a foundation called You Can Free Us, which is a fight against modern slavery.  We are in six countries and we rescue children who are trapped in the evils of human trafficking or modern day slavery."

John has an MBA and had been working for a telecommunications company in New York.  He never thought he would end up doing something like this.

"When you die, you leave everything behind. I was chasing success. I realized that chasing success is stuff, stuff you leave behind. What's more important is to build legacy. Legacy is lives you touch."