Bucky Turco, publisher of Animal, has one of the more amazing 9/11 stories we’ve ever heard. He mountain-biked to the towers just as they were falling, rollerbladed to Ground Zero later in the afternoon and was asked by Diane Sawyer [above] to join her news team to shoot video that night:
Diane was handing out water and face shields to emergency personnel. At one point she turned to me and said she would “distract them” and to “just shoot everything.” Later, while Diane was getting mic’d up outside, a producer in the news truck blurted out, “You mean she’s been walking around Ground Zero for over an hour and that’s all the soot she has on her?!?!”
Turco’s full account:
I turned on NY1 news that morning and saw a plane had hit one of the WTC towers. I immediately grabbed my cameras, jumped on the mountain bike, and blazed downtown (I was living on east 25th St. and 3rd Ave. at the time). Upon reaching Broadway, I noticed that now both Towers were burning (evidently, on my ride down the 2nd plane had hit). With papers raining down, police were frantically moving people away from the buildings, and I kept weaving in an out of streets trying to get closer, making it all the way to Carlisle and Washington St. I was only on that corner for a few minutes when the building swayed a hair to the West, and the South Tower just started crumbling. I shot the last picture I could and then had to turn and run for my life, dragging my mountain bike behind me. I headed into, of all places, a very porous parking garage where the debris rained in to a point of total darkness.
At around 3:30PM EST I bought the cheapest camcorder I could find on West 14th St. and rollerbladed downtown with a camcorder dangling from my neck. After dipping and dodging police barricades, I wound up in front of Pace University right in front of City Hall. A pretty older blonde woman tapped me on the shoulder, and asked me if I wanted to join her news crew. It was Diane Sawyer. She explained there was a media blackout and since I was the only one with a camcorder, they’d pay me to video Ground Zero. They gave me a paper towel to hide the camera under. I’ll never forget how her news team was dressed in medical scrubs and Fire Dept. shirts. That, in part, is how we got closer to the still burning buildings than anyone else besides firemen. Diane was handing out water and face shields to emergency personnel. At one point she turned to me and said she would “distract them” and to “just shoot everything.” Later, while Diane was getting mic’d up outside, a producer in the news truck blurted out, “You mean she’s been walking around Ground Zero for over an hour and that’s all the soot she has on her?!?!”
After her report, Diane and I were whisked away in a black Suburban to ABC HQ. They put me in a room with all these beta recorders while a technician was busy grabbing all the feeds from around the world — and ABC was busy drawing up an agreement. European and Mexican TV showed way more jumpers then their American counterparts and it was almost too overwhelming to watch. Once I reached home that night I really began to digest all the day’s drama — and how Diane Sawyer basically taught me how to get in and out of a disaster zone by playing the part of a first responder. Additional note: For more then 6 months ABC refused to pay me or give me a copy of my tape. Not knowing where to turn, I called Rush & Molloy. They ran an item the next day, and within hours, ABC messengered me the video and the check.
FishbowlNY’s 9/11 Anniversary Coverage: