I Escaped 9/11 By A Day — What’s Your Near Fatal Story (Everybody’s Got At Least One!)

*In my line of work I am constantly reminded of my own mortality. Whether its hearing others share stories about something that happened to a loved one, or news articles written or forwarded by me. I don’t take my life for granted. Still, being human I find myself complaining.

…a lot.

It is at those times that I am sometimes conscious enough to step outside of my self indulgence and not only recall the many “close calls” I’ve had in life; incidents where I was in serious danger and could’ve lost my life along with the life of a loved one.

And these are only the incidents I am aware of. Do you know how many times you were protected against dangers you didn’t even know about? I shudder to think. But I do recall the following two.

The 9/11 Terrorist attack in NYC (I left on 9/10):

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. 

Michael Jackson had just completed a weekend of concerts at Madison Square Garden. His publicist at the time, Bob Jones, had made sure that I got tickets to attend. I had awesome seats where, even in the enormity of the venue, I was literally right across from Michael, his mother, and several young male friends. It was interesting to see how much Michael interacted with his friends; yet how little he interacted with his mother. I could almost read his lips the one time he actually spoke to her — leaning towards her saying something like “Are you OK, mother?” I noticed she nodded her head affirmatively.

I also recall one of the performers on this night was a dreadfully thin Whitney Houston. The singer looked even more frail in the all-fur, sleeveless vest she wore. I recall it was the first time I thought of the cliche, “Houston, we have a problem,” in a whole new light. Apparently I am not the only one who thought so, as any photos of this have been removed from the internet as far as I can tell. The remaining photos show her AFTER she removed the ill-fitting vest.

It was an incredible show: the first of only two performances (Friday, September 7, 2001) celebrating Michael’s 30th Anniversary in Entertainment. A host of celebrities attended in support of Michael and performers on this night included Britney Spears, Usher and The Jacksons. I knew it was going to be an iconic event, but I had no idea an attack on America four days later would be the reason why.

As much as I wanted to stay and attend the final concert on September 10, something told me I’d better leave New York and head home to Los Angeles.

This beautiful poster was also the cover of an incredible, picturesque souvenir book.

I awakened to a phone call on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. It was from the friend who had picked me up from LAX the day before upon my arrival from New York City. The first words out of his mouth were, “You are on lucky lady. Are you watching the TV?” I rushed to turn it on and the rest is history.

Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009. Whitney Houston passed away on February 11, 2012.


My second escape from the grips of death was the 1992 Los Angeles Riots in South Central Los Angeles

My young daughter and I had been in Los Angeles for less than a year. I still had my beat up old yellow Volvo which had a major problem…the reverse gear didn’t work. It became a running joke as I always said to my friends in the Bay Area, “See, its a sign to keep going forward!”

Oh how I wished that was not the problem, a car with no reverse, as my child and I worked feverishly to get out of the cramped parking space across the street from the gas station at the exact moment the riots were starting. It was April 29 and we had just left some kind of meeting at the First AME Church when the then-pastor, Cecil Murray, told us, “God’s children, you must hurry to your homes. We have just learned that riots have begun in response to the not guilty verdict for the officers involved in the Rodney King beating.”

Oh god, I thought, grabbing my child and rushing to the car THAT WAS SANDWICHED IN BETWEEN TWO OTHERS!

“Push baby!” I remember saying to my child as I reached in to steer the wheel and guide the car out. We both jumped in (as I heard someone say, “the gas station is about to blow!”) and sped away.

Rodney King passed away on June 17, 2012.

He is widely remembered for his call-to-action on peace for his plea, “Can’t we all just get along?”

I know that you, too, have a lot to be thankful for. The narrow escapes you are aware of, and those you are not. Share one of your “narrow-escape” stories for publication in an upcoming ThisNthat article. You can use a pseudonym (made up name) or your “first name and last initial.”

I am sure many will find these near-death experiences interesting. Of course we are VERY interested in your “I died for a moment and saw this…” experiences too.

Sign me…Not laughing. 

**This article represents experiences by journalist DeBorah B. Pryor

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