9/11: How one St Helens man cheated death in the Twin Towers

Brian Johnson, from St Helens, who was in the World Trade Centre when the first hijacked plane hit on September 11, 2001
Brian Johnson, from St Helens, who was in the World Trade Centre when the first hijacked plane hit on September 11, 2001

As the world marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Reporter looks back at the extraordinary story of Brian Johnson, from St Helens, who cheated death on that fateful day.

Mr Johnson was one of the terrified thousands who fled their desks in the World Trade Centre on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

The St Helens Reporter spoke to Mr Johnson just days after the terrorist atrocity

The St Helens Reporter spoke to Mr Johnson just days after the terrorist atrocity

A computer manager for Deutsche Bank, Mr Johnson worked on the seventh floor of the first doomed skyscraper in Lower Manhattan.

Then aged 44, Mr Johnson, who lived and worked in New York at the time of the attacks, was at his desk when the first of the hijacked airliners ploughed into his building at around 8.40am.

The former Whiston Central pupil fled for his life out of the building just as the second plane smashed into the neighbouring tower.

Unhurt, he returned to work shortly after the tragedy.

In the days after the attack he spoke to the St Helens Reporter and his interview provide a graphic account of the horror experienced by those on the ground.

He said: “When the first plane hit it was like an earthquake and we rushed down the stairwell out into the streets.

“There were cars flattened by iron griders, it was carnage - absolutely horrendous.

“One of the most frightening things was when you looked up at the tower you saw something falling and when you looked closer you saw it was actually people leaping from the tower.”

In the immediate wake of the disaster all mobile phones were jammed and father of two Brian was unable to contact his young family.

He was forced to wait an agonising three hours to call his wife, Wendy.

However, Mr Johnson also told how in the days after the atrocity, resilient New Yorkers were determined to return to normality as quickly as possible.

“Although there is not a lot going on because people are still quite worried about the situation, things are starting to return to some sort of normality and people are certainly a lot more friendly since,” he added.