On 9/11, Shumi Brody walked into the North Tower of the World Trade Center to start her new job as a legal assistant. She stopped off on the 44th floor on her way to her new offices 12 stories up when the building started to shake. “It must be an earthquake,” she told herself. The then 22-year-old pressed the elevator button to head up, hoping her new coworkers would know what was going on. The elevator never came.
She remained oblivious to the chaos unfolding on the upper floors of the World Trade Center building. That was until a nearby stairwell door burst open with people helping burn victims downstairs. Something was very wrong, she realized, according to the Daily Mail. So, she started running down the stairs with them. Within a few minutes, people packed the stairwell hoping to get out of the building.
Smoke made it hard to breathe and see. People tried every door opening to get away from it. Brody tried to get out on the 35th floor, but it was locked and no one could get the door open. She pressed on in a slow march down the stairs.
That’s when she tripped and fell to the ground. She struggled to back on her feet until a hand reached out and pulled her to her feet. It was a New York City firefighter.
“Keep moving, stay calm, but just keep moving, you’re going to get out of here,” he assured her. Then he turned and ran up the stairs toward the danger.
Brody survived 9/11. But she believes her hero died when the tower fell a little more than an hour later. She never got his name and didn’t see the ladder number on his helmet. It’s something that haunts her 20 years later.
“That’s the one regret I have. If I had known what was going on, I would’ve looked at his helmet number and found his department,” Brody told the San Francisco Chronicle last year. “I do know 343 firefighters died that day, and the six who survived were near the bottom floors [of the World Trade Center]. I believe with certainty that he did not make it, knowing those numbers, and I had survivor guilt for a long time.”
Shumi: ‘Remember The Heroes of 9/11’
Brody didn’t realize what happened until she got outside and saw the gaping hole in the side of the building. She started running. Now, 20 years later she can’t shake those images from her mind. But, Shumi said, that’s not what stands out about that day. She remembers the firefighter that saved her.
“He was just so determined that he was going to help anybody that needed to be helped and he just pushed on and went up the stairs while all of us were heading down,” she said, according to the Daily Mail. “I’ve always thought of him as a hero. He’ll never know that but the firefighters that day were so selfless and heroic, and I like to remember 9/11 as a day where so many selfless acts were made.
“It was one of the darkest days I’ll ever know, but also one of the brightest to see so many of us come together and it restored my faith in humanity.”