I remember it was a beautiful day”. He was working at [a] law firm, and his office was on the 23rd floor of a building [near] the World Trade Center. At 08:46, a loud boom shook the building.
[Then] someone screamed for everyone to get out of the building, because a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. Van Why took the lift and exited through a revolving door.
“I walked to Church Street. […] I saw the North Tower […] I was dumbstruck.”
Later, [he] saw the second plane hit the South Tower as he ran towards Fulton Street. […] None of the phones were working, so he went into a café and used a telephone there. When he emerged, he heard a deafening sound. He saw a wall of grey smoke. The South Tower was collapsing.
He started running. The time was 09:59, 73 minutes after the first plane flew into the North Tower.
By the time he got to his apartment on 43rd Street. The North Tower had also collapsed. [The events have] haunted him for nearly a decade.
Tom Geoghegan, “9/11: the 73
minutes that changed my life”,
BBC, 5 September 2011.