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9/11 survivor recalls escaping from 81st floor; losing 15 friends

Pinellas County woman saw plane turn and aim for her tower
Posted at 11:24 AM, Sep 10, 2021

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — In 2001, Anne Koster worked for Bank of America on the 81st floor of the North Tower. On the morning of September 11, 2001, she watched as the hijacked 767 banked and turned toward her building. The plane exploded upon impact just nine floors above Anne’s office.

“The building swayed, tiles fell off the floor, the ceiling,” Anne recalled.

Anne called her dad and her husband. Then she and coworker Sue Conlon started down 80 flights of stairs. Together they made it down the stairwell to the 44th floor. That’s where she said Sue stopped.

“She said she wanted to rest, and I said Susan come on we must get downstairs,” Anne said.

Twenty years later Anne wishes she would have done more to get Sue down the stairs.

“I remember telling her please come with me and she didn't want to go,” she said.

Anne moved to Palm Harbor after barely escaping the North Tower on 9/11. It collapsed 15 minutes after she got out. Sue, her friend of 20 years didn’t make it.

“They found her body on Christmas Day,” said Anne, who lost 15 friends on that horrible day.

Survivor's guilt and panic attacks ramp up in the weeks leading up to every anniversary. After moving to Florida, Anne made connections with other survivors. She said relationships are a saving grace on the more difficult days.

She also holds tight to a pair of slippers someone gave to her after she ran out of the tower barefoot. The slippers are still sealed in a plastic bag and contain some of the soot from that hallowed ground. Anne said the slippers represent life and all that was lost on September 11, 2001.