Staples tells Lions about 9/11 survival

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Adam Staples spoke to the Trumann Lions Club about surviving 9/11. (DT Photo/Corey Clairday)

Originally from Piggott, Adam Staples is a State Farm Agent currently residing in Walnut Ridge. He was also in the Twin Towers when they were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Staples answered questions about surviving the experience during the Oct. 15 meeting of the Trumann Lions Club.

Staples said he was training to be a stock broker with Morgan Stanley in 2001 and had arrived in New York the day before the attack. He had gone down to the 43rd floor of the south tower for breakfast in between speakers when the first plane hit the north tower. When he returned to the 61st floor, there was an announcement that the north tower had been hit and people were to evacuate.

Staples started down with everyone else, but when it was announced that the south tower was secure, he returned to the 61st floor. Most everyone else continued down.

Then the second plane hit the south tower. "I felt the impact," Staples said, describing the feeling as "the sensation of the floor dropping from under my feet and bouncing me back up."

Staples headed down the stairs and managed to escape the tower. "From the time the second tower was hit, I expected it to go down," Staples said. Staples exited the building 26 minutes after the second plane hit, and the south tower collapsed 56 minutes after being hit.

He described reaching the other side of the street and seeing the two smoking holes where the planes hit. He said the atmosphere of the crowd outside was shock rather than a screaming panic one might expect.

His hotel was three miles away, and because he had gone back up when everyone else left the south tower, he checked back into his hotel an hour and half after the other guys from Arkansas he was with. He called his supervisor, knowing he would have a good chance of getting through to the office back home because it had 12 phone lines. He gave his supervisor a list of people to call to tell them he was okay and was told to get off the phone and call his mom.

Staples and the other guys from Arkansas, and one from St. Louis, tried unsuccessfully to get off the island Tuesday. On Wednesday, they took a train to Newark, took a bus to the airport, and tried to rent a car one-way to get back home. They were told no cars were being rented, and certainly not one-way. So Staples' group told the rental company to pick one of the guys, call his mom, and tell her that her son was not coming home. They got their rental car.

Staples said he was later asked if he would ever fly again. Staples' answer to that question was that he wouldn't live the rest of his life afraid and would continue doing the same things he did before. He has since returned to New York to visit Ground Zero but has not yet been back to see the memorial or new building.

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