This was originally put up the day after on a Yahoo! website. It was closed within hours for the thousands of views beyond the allowed server traffic. All shots were done on 35mm.

Scott Pam's Account

September 11, 2001

I skip breakfast knowing that I could survive the 40-minute trek from my apartment in Brooklyn to the help desk at Viacom on 44th street without consequences. The cafeteria has an awesome breakfast burrito that I can attribute to a slight weight gain and lingering garlic-tinged breath. I plan on hitting it before I clock in and start taking calls.

(I had narrowed down the commute to an Express Bus route that would drop me near the Trade Center and then I would take the freebie transfer to the IRT 7th Avenue line. It was faster than taking the F train to the A train and then walking a bit.)

8:20AM (Approximately)
I get onto the bus that would normally drop me just south of the WTC plaza. I loved to walk around the area if I was early enough and even go through the mezzanine shops or the local Farmer's Market. Sometimes I would find a great piece of cheddar and have that and a baguette for lunch.

I sit about 3/4 of the way into the bus as there is an empty seat. We turn onto the Prospect Expressway from Church Avenue and enter the reverse flow lane that allows us to really make some speed into the city. We get to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnell and the bus enters the tube that is now reverse flow on one lane into Manhattan. Some genius in traffic planning had figured out that three lanes into Manhattan in the morning with one reserved for commuter buses really decreases the commute time.

The bus comes to a complete stop. Traffic is still flowing in the other direction back towards Brooklyn. I am now going to be late for work. I wait a few more minutes before calling my supervisor as I notice there is no more traffic coming in the opposite direction. Suddenly there are many emergency vehicles traveling to Manhattan using the lane that is for Brooklyn-bound traffic. Some of the vehicles are volunteer ambulance services-I notice the one's from Bay Ridge (BRAVO), Flatbush (FLATVAC) and more NYC emergency service vehicles. I feel a pit growing in the center of my stomach. I am not sure if it is hunger or the start of some serious anxiety.

8:51AM (Approximately)
I call my supervisor (Verizon cell phones work in the tunnels...) and let him know that there must have been a major accident as I am still sitting in the tunnel on a bus and there are a lot of emergency vehicles going into Manhattan. I tell him that I will call him back as soon as I have an idea of what time I may be able to arrive.

8:57AM (Approximately)
We are now travelling, albeit slowly, towards Manhattan again. It is complete stop-and-go with spurts of some movement. Others are calling in to their respective jobs and we are now hearing that a plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I start thinking that there should be a ban on those small aircraft that always fly up and down the Hudson River.

I peer down the aisle to see if there is any light at the end of the tunnel and realize that we are a short distance away from exit.

We clear the exit of the tunnel. The back end of the bus is still within the overhang of the exit structure. An EXTREMELY loud sound, like a jet that is too close to the ground, is going over the top of the bus. My blood is now ice water.

9:03:00AM CNN Capture of Second Plane Impact 9-11
I hear a loud explosion. The bus and the ground is now shaking, the rest of the passengers are screaming. I am shaking. I dash to the front of the bus. I am looking out of the front of the bus - it looks like a two window movie screen with Steven Speilberg and George Lucas doing special effects except that this is live - and real. And windshield wipers are present...

I turn around and loudly tell the folks who are running around the bus in total panick to sit down and stay away from the roof of the bus as they will be safer if anything comes flying back at us. Some calm down. Some do not.

The driver is in complete shock. His face is devoid of any expression whatsoever. I know I have a camera, a notepad, and Viacom ID and I notice my shaking hands, dry throat and a rush of adrenalin.

I get the driver to pay attention to me and let me off of the bus as I explain that I am now stringing for any news agency that picks up the story.

I am off the bus and I immediately have my camera to my eye. I am not sure if someone on a radar screen in Air Traffic Control just had a major heart attack and screwed up or if two planes were on a collision course and could not avoid each other.

This is the first image I captured with the camera I have on me. (The Olympus takes great shots, but film scanning back in 2001 was not what it is today when you get the roll developed.) I am standing on the actual plaza of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel facing North. The plane impacted the South Tower within the last two minutes. Only white dust/smoke is flowing from the huge holes that are on both sides of the tower.


Within a few more seconds, the smoke starts turning grey. I notice the black smoke on the North Tower and see that is is aflame. I cannot yet tell what the hell hit it, but I notice the large gash on the South Tower and gray smoke is streaming out.

I ask those around what they saw. Most people appear dazed and in shock, some are able to talk to me. I walk off to the side of the plaza out of traffic. Vehicles are still parked as the tube to Brooklyn is still shut down for incoming traffic.

I snap another pic and notice a small flame beginning at the bottom of the hole in the side of the South Tower. The smoke is now turning black.


Now the smoke starts getting a bit blacker. The flame is more visible to me.

I walk up to a van driver and ask him what he saw. He points to the top of the van and shows me where something had hit it right after the first plane had hit. He had been driving on the west side of the Trade Center.


The driver of a red van gets my attention and I take a shot of something on the top of his van. It also came from the first plane impacting the North Tower. I realize that I only have ONE roll of 35mm film - I need to record what I can. The first part of the roll was used during a camping trip a week or so prior to 9-11.

By this time, I hear that plane hit the Pentagon. It is now 9:40AM. The US is officially under attack. The conversations around me turn to anger.

I walk North out of the Plaza and realize that the Breakfast Burrito at the Viacom Cafeteria will probably not materialize.

I am hungry and now I am thinking of finding some food.

I turn around and head across the plaza towards a payphone. I hope to reach my supervisor and tell him what was happening.

I turn North up West Street and snap another two shots. I see the South Tower starting to lean east at the top. Is it an illusion from heat and smoke and the bending of light or is my perception telling me that the top of the tower is really starting to look unsteady?

It is between 9:43AM and 9:59AM.

I take another shot as I continue walking towards a deli I know that has some coffee and food...and people I know.

I follow my eye again to the lines of the South Tower and I see that the edge facing me is off at the top from "straight". This is the direction that the collapse would take a few minutes later.

I head to Champs Deli on Trinity and Rector and order a fried egg sandwich and a cup of decaf, light no sugar. I take out my Palm VII. All attempts to use my cell phone fail. The phone in the deli still works but only for local calls. I call my supervisor and he tells me to not even come uptown and to just get to safety. I raise the antenna on the Palm VII to send a message to as many people as possible while scarfing down the egg sandwich. I start typing out my parent's email address and then start entering the "I am OK message". I am grateful that I have eaten the sandwich but the coffee never gets touched.

South Tower Collapse at 9:59AM

The entire Champs deli is shaking as the South Tower comes crashing down.

I head outside for a few quick shots of the cloud of dust heading my way.

Across the street is Trinity Church. Cowering by the wall are some of the folks who are running from the collapsing building.

I notice that I am standing still in the middle of the ground shaking. Everyone else in the deli is on the floor and most are screaming. I feel completely safe as if God has cloaked me with his hand. I suddenly am calm.

The dust starts to settle. The scene appears to me as if i am in a science fiction movie.

I can see people outside who are trying to escape the choking dust. A windows has cracked on the Rector Street side of the deli. The owner has some workers attempting to tape or sealit shut to prevent any more dust from getting in. The dust is already coming in through the opening at the bottom of the door.

I head back into the building. It appears strong and I feel like it can withstand almost anything. I head into the lobby and down into the basement. On the level just below the store, the subway entrance is filled with dust and smoke. Quite alot of people are entering into the building. They are sheltering in a hair salon. Two volunteer firemen from Jersey are assisting with that crowd. I head further downstairs to see if I can find cloth that can be wetted and put over faces for masks. The dust is pretty bad and the taste is acrid.

I go into the maintenance level looking for towels, hankies, t-shirts and find a young lady. She is sitting staring at the monitor of a camera in the lobby of the building. She is unable to speak or move. She starts crying as she turns to me. I ask if she is alright and she stands up and wraps her arms around me and starts sobbing. I do my best to comfort her.

I ask if she will assist me in locating items that can be used for filtering out the dust and she responds. We look for items in the lockers and find nothing of use except for stacks of paper napkins. We start wetting them up.

The two of us climb back up to street level and realize that most people sheltered need water and other items. We grab water that the owner (Vinnie?) tells us to take and we distribute some of it.

The North Tower collapses. / Full CNN Video of the Collapse

A woman comes into the deli throught the Rector Street door in complete panic, screaming that they are all dead. I place my arms around her and try to tell her that she is alive and we must survive this together. She runs back out into the dust.

I grab a few more shots through the gated windows of Champs deli.

I head to the sub-basements of the building and stay there. Few people are willing to join me but stay in the mirrored salon with glass on all of the walls. I realize the inherent danger of this location and head further down into the sub-basements.

My head is racing with thoughts of attacks and further incidents as I get way below street level. One other person joins me and we stay below for a while.

I realize that I am losing track of time. I have no clue what time it is nor am I able to keep track.

We go up to the street level to check on the others. A loud noise, similar to fighter jet, goes screaming overhead. I panic not knowing if this is another attack and retreat to the sub-basement level.

A little while later, I return to the street level to see if there is any news.

We are told that the mayor has ordered an evacuation. We are to head to the southern tip of Manhattan. I disagree and stay put. There are no bridges and the tunnels are not open - whoever is there might be a sitting duck for the next attack, if one was to happen.

I wait downstairs and pray.

Some time passes, exactly how much I cannot be sure of. Now the evacuation orders are to head East to the river and walk up to a bridge and get off of the island of Manhattan.

A large number of us are ready to leave the building. I grab some more water that Vinnie is grateful to give away.

We start walking East. I grab some more shots of the area. Papers and dust are flying all over and it is difficult to breathe even with the wet hanky covering my face.

Trinity Church is surrounded by dust and other debris, but appears to be undamaged. The red glow behind the church looking North up Broadway shows the intense glow of the fire from the collapsed buildings.

I turn around to take some more pics. This is where I had just left...where the ability to even see detail ends.

I am now walking with a crowd of people towards the Manhattan Bridge. We have no other choice. The subways and all mass transit has been stopped. Many subway tunnels are unusable at this point.

I am now up onto the bridge and still snapping photos. I see a friend, Imre, and we are hugging and crying.

At this point, I am almost halfway across the bridge to Brooklyn. I know I have a long walk to my door. The dust is all over me and my backpack and I have an awful taste in my mouth.

I get out my cell phone, and call my parents who moved to California two years prior. I get through. Just once. And just "I am OK" before the signal drops.

As I get closer to Brooklyn, I run into a reporter from the New York Times. He give me an address to upload all pics to.

I start walking up Flatbush Avenue to Seventh Avenue. The health food store is open and she lets me use the restroom.

I turn on Seventh Avenue and get to a friend's apartment. He's not home.

I see there are people in a real estate office and I ask politely if I can use the phone. I call a few people and no one is answering.

I wash my face in their bathroom and give them thanks for letting me use the restroom.

I walk back out onto Seventh Avenue and I can see the plume coming across the sky. I continue to walk until I can no longer move. Adrenalin, fatigue, and the event has exhausted me but I am still shaken up.

I get to a subway station and I don't care how long it takes for a train. Finally, an F train arrives and I get to Church Avenue. A bus driver lets us all on for free and I ride for a few blocks.

I blank out for a while. I really cannot remember anything other than being in my Olds Cutlass Supreme and doing in excess of the speed limit to get to a photo lab on Long Island.

I realize that there is NO OTHER CAR in either direction on the Belt Parkway. I get to the lab and I call a relative to see if I can stay with them in Queens for the night. They agree.

The lab gets the film processed quickly but the resolution is not that good. I drive to the nearest Kinkos and start uploading the shots to the Times.

I get to my great aunt and uncle's condo. I cannot remember anything until the next day. Somehow I am off from Viacom until Thursday.