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Tallahassee Man Shares 9/11 Survival Story

Jim Mathieu at 9/11 Event
Posted at 5:00 PM, Sep 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-11 14:05:22-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Jim Mathieu says even though it's been 14 years since the 9/11 attacks, he still remembers what it was like to escape death in the midst of chaos.

He was sitting at his desk on the 54th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center when his life changed.

"I spun towards towards the noise and saw debris bounce off the side of my building," he said. "I jumped from my desk and made it to the stairs."

The first plane had hit the north tower, and Mathieu made his way out of the south tower, before the second plane hit minutes later.

"I was looking out at the time to see what was going on, but I have no recollection of what I saw, no recollection of what happened to me," Mathieu said.

Mathieu shared what he could recall in front of local first responders, public officials and community members at the Tallahassee Fire Department station on Easterwood Drive.

"I just really wanted to tell my story, so I could bring people closer to the event," he said, "put them right there."

A steel beam from one of the towers was on display - a reminder of those who lost their lives that day.

"It was just one of those rare moments - and probably the only one I've had in my life where I felt that I was going to die at that moment," Mathieu said.

The second plane hit about 20 floors above where he had been working.

"I proceeded to make a lot of movements towards, away from what was happening, knowing that whatever was happening, I would see on the news for many days to come, many years to come," he said.

Mathieu said he couldn't believe what he was seeing, as first responders rushed to the scene.

"While everyone else is running from the disaster, there are people that are running into it," he said. "To me, they're just heroes."

Mathieu and his wife moved to Tallahassee not long after the attacks, but despite being far from New York now, he said he often thinks about the people he knew who died that day.