The tragic deaths of those who perished in the September 11 terror attacks in the US are remembered on that date each year, and images of the aftermath of those terrible events in 2001 are ingrained in the minds of those who witnessed them. Many people have since shared their stories of how they were so nearly caught up in the attacks themselves, not least many famous individuals who might otherwise have perished.
1. Rob Lowe
In 2011, actor Rob Lowe revealed that he had shared a plane with the hijackers who eventually took control of the famed United Flight 93, before passengers overwhelmed them and the plane went down in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Ten days before the attacks, Lowe and the hijackers sat on the very same Flight 93, departing Washington’s Dulles airport, on the terrorists’ practice run. Lowe found out in 2002 when he received a letter informing him he had been deposed for the defence of the alleged ‘12th hijacker’ Zacarias Moussaoui.
2. Seth MacFarlane
The Family Guy creator came a little closer to being directly involved in the attacks, actually having a seat booked on American Flight 11 which crashed into the WTC North Tower. Macfarlane’s agent had told him that the flight left 30 minutes later than it actually did, and a combination of this and a hangover caused him to miss boarding by just a few minutes. Coincidentally, the star of Macfarlane’s latest movie, Ted, also narrowly escaped getting caught up in the events of that terrible day…
3. Mark Wahlberg
Wahlberg had also planned to fly to Los Angeles on the very same Flight 11 with a group of friends. He decided to change his plans at the last minute in order to attend a film festival in Toronto, where he eventually flew before transferring on to LA. In recent interviews, Wahlberg claims that he has had over 50 dreams in which he has tried to come to terms with the near-miss and wondered how he would have reacted had he been onboard.
4. Ian Thorpe
Australian multi-Olympic medal-winning swimmer, affectionately known as the Thorpedo, was spending a few days in New York when he went out for a run on the morning of September 11. While out, he decided to go to the observation deck at the top of the WTC but realised he did not have a camera with him and returned to his hotel in order to get it. It was while he was in his hotel room that he turned on the TV to see the North Tower aflame.
5. A Gwyneth Paltrow Fan
Lara Lundstrom Clarke was crossing the street when she caught the eye of movie star Paltrow sat behind the wheel of her car. Going over to her, the two chatted briefly before Clarke went on her way to the subway station, where she just missed her train to work at the World Trade Centre. Clarke got the next train, only to emerge from the station and see a plane fly into Tower 1, obviously causing her to have to flee instead of heading to her office on the 77th floor of Tower 2.
6. Larry Silverstein
The leaseholder on the buildings of the World Trade Centre, Silverstein’s company had temporary offices on the North Tower’s 88th floor. In a turn of events which eventually fuelled internet conspiracy theories, Silverstein was cajoled by his wife into not missing a scheduled dermatologist appointment on the morning of September 11, ultimately leading to his being away from the office when the planes hit.
7. Patti Austin
The R&B singer was booked onto the LA-bound United 93 at the end of a two-concert series in New York but flew out a day earlier on September 10 following the news that her mother had been taken ill after suffering a stroke. If not for her own personal family tragedy, she would have been involved in the national one that was to follow the next day.
8. Jim Pierce
Nephew of George H.W. Bush and cousin to then-president George W, Jim Pierce and several hundred other businessmen were booked to attend a conference on the South Tower’s 105th floor on September 11. Excess demand forced the conference to relocate to a bigger room in the Millennium Hotel across the street, this last-minute change of plans meaning that he and most of the conference’s attendees were not in the WTC when the planes hit.
9. Julie Stoffer
Stoffer gained fame through her appearance on the MTV reality show ‘The Real World: New Orleans’ in 2000, and was in Boston in the days preceding September 11. On the morning of the attacks, she had a fight with her then-boyfriend which caused her to miss her flight to Los Angeles. The plane she had been booked to fly on was American Airlines Flight 11, which was hijacked and flown into the WTC’s North Tower.
10. Sarah Ferguson
The Duchess of York was on NBC giving an interview when the first cutaway occurred to report on the first plane hitting the WTC. Her charity, Chances for Children, was based on floor 101 of 1 World Trade Center, and she was working out of their offices during her time in the city. None of the charity’s workers were in the tower when it came down, though many employees of the financial firm that donated the space did perish when the tower collapsed.