LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Countless stories have been told of bravery, loss, and survival, and every year one Louisville man, Erik Bell, remembers the moment he survived the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
″All of a sudden we heard a loud boom. We started to see papers fly through the air on fire, at that particular time I got up next to the window and looked down," Bell explained, “and I saw a big ball of fire about the size of an SUV.”
Bell was 25 years old when the nation experienced a day that is hard to forget, and he was right in the middle of it at ground zero.
“When we got into the 20s on the floors, that’s when the plane struck our building,” Bell said.
Bell was on the 61st floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center working as a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley.
“The stairway started to sway, and the plaster on the wall started to crack and the stairway started to fill with smoke,” Bell added. “We started to see firefighters going up the stairs."
At that moment, Bell’s future was not promised.
”We didn’t know if we were going to be running into flames, because the last time there was a terrorist attack the bomb was in the basement of the building," Bell added.
Nineteen years after surviving the terror attacks when more than 3,000 others were killed, Bell can say he’s survived another near-fatal experience. Recently, he was on a ventilator for six days after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“I had to retrain my body to walk again,” Bell explained. “I had to work on my speech because I was dealing with a lot of anxiety and I was starting to stutter.”
Bell spent 15 days in the hospital and has recently tested positive again for COVID-19, but he’s confident in his recovery.
“I’m appreciative of the folks that have reached out to me on this day,” Bell added. “Especially this day in 2020 when I just recovered from spending 15 days in the hospital with COVID and to survive 9/11, I feel very blessed.”