"How did we survive the collapse of two buildings on top of us?" Port Authority Sgt. John McLoughlin asked. "How did a Marine somehow find us in the debris field? How did the rescuers dig us out? How did the doctors get my legs working?"
McLoughlin, 48, whose legs were crushed in the catastrophe, rolled into the news conference at Helen Hayes Hospital in a wheelchair. He wore a Port Authority Police Department cap and daughter Erin wore a shirt that read, "Never forget." He was joined by his wife, Donna, and their three other children.
McLoughlin had hurried to the trade center after the first hijacked plane hit the north tower Sept. 11. He said he was in an underground concourse when one building collapsed, and soon found himself buried under 30 feet of debris, pinned from his hips to his feet in a tiny cavern "the size of a body."
He could talk to a buried colleague, Officer William Jimeno, and their cries were eventually heard. Both were saved, but it took rescue crews 22 hours to pull McLoughlin out.
Deputy Chief Robert Caron said the sergeant was the last survivor pulled from the rubble.
During his underground ordeal, McLoughlin said, "there was a point of acceptance of dying." But when he thought of his family, "I had to get out for them."
He vowed "to be walking as I used to and get back to work and back to my precinct." He also said he was looking forward to his wife's eggplant parmigiana and a Boy Scout meeting with his son.
Asked what lesson he had learned, he said, "Don't give up. There is always hope."
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