Connie Labetti worked on the 99th floor of the south tower — the second World Trade Center tower to be hit on Sept. 11, 2001.
She made it out of the building thanks to her boss, Ron Fazio. He, however, did not survive. Fazio was one of 176 Aon employees who died that day. He was 57.
"He's the reason I'm here, there's no question about it," 52-year-old Labetti says. "Most of us survived that day because of him."
Click the audio above to hear Labetti remembering how she made it out alive, with help from Fazio. His family started a nonprofit in his memory, Hold The Door For Others Inc. The organization empowers people to grow through any type of loss or adversity and achieve their dreams.
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman. Since 2005, StoryCorps has partnered with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum to record one story for each life lost in the attacks.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It's Friday, which means it's time again for StoryCorps. We are approaching the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and since 2005, the StoryCorps project has partnered with the national 9/11 Memorial and Museum to record one story for each life lost.
Connie Labetti worked on the 99th floor of the South Tower, the second tower to be hit, and at StoryCorps she remembered how she made it out alive with help from her boss, Ron Fazio.
CONNIE LABETTI: Ron turned to me and he said, "Hey, look at that plane. That plane is flying too low." And I didn't really pay too much attention. I'd been in the towers for so long, I had seen so much - airplanes, helicopters, blimps. But Ron, he screamed, "It's going to hit us!"
I just stood frozen. I didn't move. I couldn't move. I could see it coming closer and closer. I could see the AA on its tail. I could see the tinted windows of the cockpit. That's how close I was.
The plane, it was just swallowed up by the building. It was just gone; and all there was, was this red, black smoke. And Ron, he said, "We have to get out of here. Go to the staircase."
I remember hearing the P.A. announcement come on: "Do not evacuate." But Ron, he knew he had to get us out of there, and we all just made it out OK. The next day, about 8 o'clock in the morning, the phone started ringing. And it was my boss, Ron's, son. I just immediately started to tell him how much of a hero I thought his dad was, and he got us all to the staircase. And he said, "Connie, when did you see my dad last?"
And I said, "He didn't come home?" The last that was heard of Ron was that he was out of the building. He lent somebody his cellphone just as the tower came down. So they think that he might have been hit with the debris. He actually wasn't supposed to be at work that day. I think of that. I think of, if Ron wasn't in that day - he's the reason I'm here, there's no question about it. Most of us survived that day because of him.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Connie Labetti, remembering her boss, Ron Fazio, who died on 9/11. This interview will be archived at the Library of Congress, and you can get the StoryCorps podcast at NPR.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.