Former Port Authority Officer Will Jimeno recounts surviving 9/11 attack, being pulled from rubble

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Twenty years ago, Will Jimeno was a rookie Port Authority police officer.

When the North Tower was hit, he volunteered for an impossible mission, rescuing civilians from what he termed as "the mouth of hell."

He was in between the towers when they collapsed, one of only a handful of people pulled from the rubble.

Ever since he's dedicated his life to lifting others up and helping them deal with trauma.

"September 11th lives with me every, single day. It never goes away for those of us that were there that day, survived that day," Jimeno said.

On 9/11, Jimeno volunteered to help evacuate the South Tower.

He was in the shopping mall below when the building collapsed, leaving Jimeno and two of his colleagues pinned under 20 feet of rubble.

"I asked God at that moment. I said, 'Let me be there to see the birth of my daughter because again, my wife was seven months pregnant and I just hated the fact that I wasn't going to be there. And the second and I sound, I know it sounds silly, But I said, 'God when I get to heaven can I have a glass of water?'" he said.

The Navy veteran was pulled from the pile of rubble hours after the towers fell.

Twenty years later, the scars still show.

A leg brace and this quarter-sized divot left behind by rebar that pinned him are a daily reminder of the injuries that ended his police career.

"I tell people 20 years later, one of the things that I learned that night is to never give up. You fight to the end," Jimeno said.

To this day, Jimeno still battles post-traumatic stress disorder.

He keeps shelves of mementos from that day including a cross and mini twin towers fashioned from steel from the building.

His remarkable story was told in the 2006 Oliver Stone film, "World Trade Center." And now he's written two books, one for children, about coping with trauma.



"Proud to be, have been an immigrant, my pride for the United States and, of course, the World Trade Center," Jimeno said.

Jimeno is grateful every day he survived to watch both his daughters grow up, dedicating his life to use his story to inspire others.

"The way I can honor those we lost, honor those that were injured, is to live a fruitful life, you know, to be an example to others. That, you know, September 11th did not destroy us," he said.

CLICK HERE for more Eyewitness News reflections, photos and stories marking the anniversary of 9/11

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