Man on 91st floor of World Trade Center North Tower during attacks tells survival story

Church member mixes tales of faith and survival

Now living in Ohio, George Sleigh is a man who has survived not one but two attacks on the World Trade Center.

On September 11, 2001, Sleigh and 11 co-workers were in the only occupied office on the 91st floor of the North Tower. He noticed a low flying plane passing the Empire State Building and headed his way. That plane would hit just a few floors above his office.

Eight years earlier, Sleigh was in his office on the 101st floor when it was attacked with a truck bomb. He and his co-workers would go up to the observation deck before climbing down 106 stories to safety.

The auditorium at the Parkside Church on Pettibone Road in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was packed with an audience enthralled with his story.

He recalled checking on his co-workers after the plane hit and then looking at his surroundings.

"As I looked around my office, everything was still intact and the windows were not broken," he said. "There was no smoke, no fire, no sense of anything really bad happening at that particular point. Not dreaming that those buildings would eventually collapse, but we knew we needed to get out of there as quickly as we could."

In a light moment, Sleigh told of a co-worker doing things out of habit as they prepared to flee the office. After finding the exit they would take, the co-worker went back to his desk to turn off the lights but realized something else.

"His computer was still on, so you don't just turn your computer off you have to log off," said Sleigh as the audience erupted in laughter.

They wound their way down 91 floors. At first they would encounter very few people as they would later discover theirs was the highest floor from which anyone would survive.

He told of giving encouragement to firefighters the passed in the stairways, young and old, carrying many, many pounds of equipment to the area he and others were fleeing.

Sleigh, a member of Parkside Church, intertwined stories of the 2001 attack with stories of his faith and used selections of the Bible as analogies to that day.

"Looking back (at the firefighters climbing to rescue others) it reminds me of a verse in scripture in Romans 5: 7-8 that says ‘Most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, for someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good' that's the quality I put these firefighters in. They were willing to put their lives on the line to rescue people," said Sleigh adding, "But verse 8 says ‘But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners'."

Sleigh called the rescue on 9/11 a great rescue but said the greatest rescue ever was when God sent his Son to die on the Cross to rescue us.

As he detailed getting out of the Tower, he described being knocked down by horizontal debris that he would later learn was the South Tower collapsing.

Injured, he was able to find two other people alive in the rubble and the three would walk away to safety and did not look back.

A picture of Sleigh and the two other men would be snapped by a free lance photographer and was published in many papers including London.

Sleigh said his son, knowing his father was safe, would open a paper in London to see a picture of his father and the two other men dusty and dirty and injured. A closer look at picture showed his father had managed to carry his briefcase with him through the entire ordeal.

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