9/11: The Last Person Pulled Out Alive from World Trade Center Rubble: 'I Was Given a New Life'

Genelle Guzman-McMillan left her native Trinidad and Tobago two years before the World Trade Center attacks in search of the American dream.

via: People

On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m. ET, a jet hijacked by Islamic terrorists hit the top floors of her 110-story building, also known as the North Tower. It shook her floor.

Feeling a second shake that Guzman McMillan, 50, later realized was from another hijacked jet hitting the second tower next door, she and a coworker named Rosa decided to walk the staircase.

In high heels and with feet aching, the then-30-year-old stopped on the 13th floor to take them off. Then the tower collapsed, at 10:28 a.m.

“Everything just went boom,” she recalls. “Everything was crumbling and was just coming on top of me.”

Guzman McMillan would be buried for more than a day.

“I felt like I was there forever,” she says. “I just thought I was dreaming. I just figured this has to be a dream. This is not happening. And I didn’t know if anybody was going to find me. I just laid there.”

“I heard everything what was going on. I heard someone cry out for help in a very faint voice. I would hear the trucks and the walkie talkies going off,” Guzman McMillan shares.

“But I couldn’t call out for some reason,” she says. “Dust in my mouth, my nose. I was just laying there. Just didn’t know what to do, what to say.”

“And the pain, it was shooting, like steel was like sticking at my side, by my stomach. I only had my left hand loose, I was trying to position myself to kind of ease that pain, but it didn’t help,” Guzman McMillan adds.

“I tried to put my head out and I realized that it was really wedged and stuck. I was thinking I’m going to die. I knew I wasn’t going to get out. I’m preparing myself to die,” she explains.

“But then I decided to pray. I just knew that I wanted to live because I wanted to see my daughter, Kimberly. She was 12 at the time. I just keep begging and praying, just asking God to show me a miracle,” she says.

“And then I was giving up. And I said, ‘Oh God, I can’t take this no more’ when I heard someone call out to me, I feel like he said, ‘I got you. My name is Paul,'” recalls Guzman McMillan.

“He hold onto my hand. And I hold on his hands. Talking to me, telling me, ‘I’m going to be fine. I’m not going to let you go,'” she remembers.

Guzman McMillan spent 27 hours in the rubble before rescuers arrived. Her right leg was crushed, her head swollen and face burned. She was hospitalized for over a month, and doctors at one point considered amputating her leg, but a fourth surgery saved it. She now has a permanent limp.

Through this entire ordeal was Roger McMillan, her boyfriend at the time of the attacks.

While in the hospital, she asked McMillan a question that had been on her mind for awhile. “I said, ‘Honey, when I get out, let’s go to City Hall and get married,'” she says.

They did, on Nov. 7 of that year. “And it’s been a beautiful journey from there on,” says McMillan, 58, who works for the Port Authority at JFK Airport in its environmental unit.

“We appreciate each other knowing that there was a 99% I almost lost somebody that I fell in love with,” he says.

The couple had two daughters, now 17 and 16, and raised Guzman McMillan’s daughter from a previous relationship, now 32. They live in Valley Stream, Long Island, and enjoy staying home and spending time with their children.

“I was given a new life,” says Guzman McMillan, now a supervisor for the Port Authority at LaGuardia airport. “I know that God has a bigger plan for me and I just try to do what is right. And encourage people in order to try to move forward despite the adversity in life. My faith is just growing stronger and stronger.”

While her nightmares about 9/11 have long ceased, McMillan notes there is one lingering psychological effect. “Regrets of her losing her best friend or coworkers,” he says. “She has that kind of like survivor’s remorse — ‘Why did my coworkers die and I survived?'”

She gains strength from her Christian faith, and in 2011 published ‘Angel in the Rubble, a memoir about her experience on 9/11 and the angel named Paul who helped her.

Guzman McMillan says she’s tried to find Paul for the last 20 years. “We never found Paul,” she shares. “So we’ve come to the conclusion that Paul truly was my angel.”

Sending positive energy to Genelle.

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