Usually awakened by the sun bursting through her apartment windows, NYU senior Caroline Dries was jump-started to a much different blast Tuesday morning.
With a plain view of the World Trade Center towers from her penthouse apartment, Dries joked about being bombed.
“Megan, I think we’re being bombed,” Dries said with a chuckle.
As friends and neighbors gathered in her room to confirm the noise, none of them had any idea of what had actually occurred.
“I didn’t even think of a terrorist attack; my friends and I were almost laughing at the time,” Dries said.
Dries, whose view is mid- to lower-tower, did not believe her own words until she looked up to see a ball of fire and smoke that took the place of the cascading tower.
Believing she had uncovered a freak accident at the World Trade Center, Dries grabbed her video camera and headed to the window to catch the shot.
She never anticipated what would happen next.
“I didn’t have time to move the camera to the next tower until the second plane collided,” Dries said. “I could see the colors on the plane, I could almost read the writing on the plane as it passed by. It was like watching the movie Pearl Harbor or something.”
Dries decided go outside for a closer look, but soon returned to her apartment, as she feared for her life.
“I immediately thought we were under attack,” Dries said.
Dries returned to her penthouse to shut her windows, which no longer highlighted the World Trade Center, but rather billows of smoke and dust.
Dries and her roommate both dove to the floor when the first tower fell. They knew they had to evacuate.
“I grabbed my camera, phone and wallet and left the building with a bandana over my face,” she said. “The street was full of gusts of smoke and debris, everybody was running. It was like Pamplona’s running of the bulls.”
As the initial chaos began to minimally subside, Dries sat in Washington Square Park to contemplate what had happened.
“The integrity of our country has been compromised,” she said. “Watching kids run around in the park reminded me that things have to go on, and that’s what we have to think about.”
Several hours after the fact, Dries recalled the mood of the city.
“It was more jaded and confused than frantic,” she said. “It wasn’t just blood and carnage. All day people kept looking up in the sky. The whole financial district was at a standstill.”
Dries does not know when she can to return to her apartment because the streets below 14th are restricted.
“I basically live in negative 14th St.,” she said.
Dries said she will never forget her abnormally close view of America’s most destructive and tragic moment.
“Every time I close my eyes, I see a plane crashing into the side of a building,” she said.