‘All hell broke loose.’ NY Waterway captain reflects on 9/11 rescue

This is one of the most important heroic stories of September 11, 2001, when it rescued thousands of people from Manhattan at sea.

The New York Waterway Ferry evacuated people fleeing terrorist attacks and took them to Weehawken.

New York Waterway Ferry Captain Rick Thorton remembers the morning of the attack as a pristine day on the water before his heroic act. He said he was on a regular route between Midtown and Weehawken.

“It was a very sunny late summer day, just perfect weather, just enjoying life,” Thorton says.

Thorton says he and his crew saw a low-flying plane.

“It was very low, very loud. I saw it hit the North Tower,” Thorton says.

The largest sea evacuation in American history was about to begin. Thornton says he saw fear in the eyes of passengers desperate to board.

“People were pouring out of the building onto the water. They were all trapped along the water’s edge and some were actually jumping into the water,” he says. Their phones, sheer panic. ”

These ferries are believed to have rescued about half a million people on that fateful day.

Thorton says that day was probably the defining moment of his life.

“I didn’t want to take the day off. I didn’t want to watch it on TV or on vacation in Florida. I was so proud of everyone who helped me that day,” Thorton says.

Thorton has been in this business for 35 years. He says there is no more important work day than September 11, 2001.

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