On the day people called out to their God: At Monroe church, World Trade Center survivor recounts his escape

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:56

MONROE-Stanley Praimnath will tell you that he is a logical man. But he also will tell you that what happened to him on Sept. 11, 2001, was so illogical that he believes, without any doubt, that every person he came across that day was as result of God. Praimnath was one of four people above the 81st floor of Tower Two who survived the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. He has been interviewed all over the world and has appeared on all the major news stations. Recently, he was part of the National Geographic Documentary that aired late this summer. Over breakfast on Sept. 24, Praimnath shared his story of Sept. 11 with members and guests of the Calvary Assembly of God Church in Monroe. The lecture opened with a prayer from the pastor, the Rev. Gary Pignaloso, followed by a video that depicted images and footage from Sept. 11 which brought many people to tears. Then Priamnath began his story. He described himself as a religious, family man from Long Island who commuted to his office at the World Trade Center like so many others. He was assistant vice president in the loans operation department of Fuji Bank Limited on the 81st floor of Tower Two. The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, was no different from any other. Praimnath started each day with a silent prayer: “Lord cover me under your precious blood. Take us to work and bring us back home in peace and safety.” When the first plane slammed into Tower One, Priamnath was in the elevator heading up to his office on the 81st floor in Tower Two. He was unaware that anything had happened. When he arrived to his floor, he had a friendly encounter with a temp worker by the name of Delise. He told the audience that he first noticed something was wrong when he was on the telephone, assuring family members that he was fine, when he said fireballs shooting from the sky. He alerted Delise and the two of them ran to the elevator. They made it down to the lobby level along with several other executives whom he had worked with for 13 years. The exit to safety was literally feet away. But he said a security guard stopped them and asked why they were leaving the building. The guard assured Priamnath and his coworkers that it was just an accident and that their building was safe. He told them they could all return to their offices. But Delise, whom he had just met earlier that morning, was quite upset and Praimnath told her to go home. And she did. Priamnath and his colleagues got back in the elevator and headed to their offices. It was the last he ever saw of any of them again. Only Delise and Prianmath survived. Priamnath said that telling Delise to leave was the best decision he ever made in his life. When he went back into his office, a colleague from Chicago called. She was watching the news and told him to leave immediately. As he was assuring her he was fine, he looked out the glass window and saw a plane at eye level heading straight toward him. He crawled under his desk and prayed: “Lord, I can’t do this, you take over.” After impact, the smell of jet fuel, the debris, the smoke and fire were all around him. The desks, furniture and walls were all flattened and in pieces. Oddly, though, the desk he was under remained intact. And, he said, a Bible sat on top of it, untouched. Then Priamnath said he noticed a flashlight and immediately thought that this was God’s way of sending him a guardian angel. He crawled toward the light, but when he got closer he saw that there was a wall. A voice behind the wall yelled for him to climb over it. He told the man he was too weak and could not. He doesn’t recall this, but the man later told him that he asked him his name and if he went to church. “My name is Brian Clark,” the man beyond the wall said, “and yes, every Sunday.” The two men prayed together and after his failed attempt to climb the wall, Priamnath prayed again. Priamnath choked up as he told the Assembly of God members that he can still remember the feeling of strength that came over him, enabling him to punch through the wall. “When I climbed through to the other side, I gave Brian a big kiss, hugged him and told him he saved my life,” Priamnath recalled. Clark replied: “We were brothers for life.” They still had to get down 81 floors. When they finally made it down, the emergency workers, fire and police officers were screaming for them to run. And they ran. They ran to Trinity Church where they held on to a fence. Praimnath gave his business card to Clark and said “If we don’t meet again, I’ll see you in heaven.” Moments later Tower Two collapsed. The scene was chaotic and the men lost each other. Praimnath said Brian Clark saved his life. Brian Clark would later say staying behind to help Priamnath saved his life. This, the speaker told his audience, is “God’s unique way.” Later that day, Praimnath finally made it home to his wife Jennifer (who feared he was dead) and their two daughters in Long Island. Everything he endured that day, he told the congregation, was nothing compared to his 4-year old not recognizing the ash-faced, bloodied and beaten man who walked into the kitchen. She yelled for him to get away and hid behind her mother. His older daughter knew her father immediately and hugged him, crying that she wouldn’t have been able to live without him. He said his physical wounds healed quickly and he went back to work that October. He attempted counseling but said he that he wound up consoling the counselor so he realized it wasn’t for him. His belief in God, he said, helped him through that day and every day since. As the lecture ended, many members began praying both silently and aloud. Praimnath greeted each guest, speaking to them individually. His book, “Plucked from the Fire,” was available; the proceeds go to charitable donations. When Praimnath is not working his corporate job Monday through Friday, he travels to churches and venues across the country, giving an account of his story. He said this is his way of thanking God for all he had done for him. And the message Praimnath said he wanted to convey was that on Sept. 11, 2001, people of all denominations called out to their God. And He heard and He answered.