Carol Marin Recalls Ground Zero on 9/11, Is Surprised by Officer Who Guided Her Out of Darkness

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Carol Marin doesn't know the name of the firefighter who shielded her with his own body on Sept. 11, 2001. But she will never forget his heart beating so hard that she could feel it pounding against her back.

Marin, now NBC 5's political editor, was working as a correspondent for CBS News out of the "60 Minutes" offices in New York City that day.

When the planes hit the World Trade Center, Marin rushed to ground zero, where she found herself running as the tower began to implode, producing a fireball at its base, and certain that she was going to die.

"As I approached the twin towers, all of a sudden, the first tower, it was like it melted right before my eyes. It just toppled. And everywhere, people just screamed," Marin recalled in an interview 10 years later.

NBC Chicago Political Editor Carol Marin was working in New York City as a correspondent for CBS News when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

In the heart of the chaos, Marin somehow found her way through smoke and debris to make it back to the CBS News studio and join Dan Rather on air just hours later to share her experience, visibly shaken and still covered in ash.

"Dan, I think I was in the second collapse or an explosion right after that," she told Rather. "I was coming toward the World Trade Center looking for CBS crews, and asked a firefighter if they saw any. He told me to walk down the middle of the road."

"All of a sudden there was a roll, an explosion and we could see coming at us a ball of flame stories high," Marin continued. "He and others screamed, 'Run!' and I ran. I fell, one of them picked me up. We ran as fast as we could, and then he threw me into the wall of a building and covered me."

"He threw me into a wall, covered me with his body," Marin said in 2001. "I could feel his heart banging against my back - we were both so sure we were going to die."

"The flame somehow stopped short of us. But whatever collapsed created... a rain of cinders so thick that you couldn't see this far in front of you," Marin told Rather, holding her hand just inches in front of her face, "and you couldn't breathe."

Marin said a New York City police officer named Brendan Duke then grabbed her hand and together they tried to find their way out of the darkness and into the light.

"Again, we thought we were finished," she said. "We somehow got to the light, another firefighter gave me his mask for a moment so I could breathe and then I made my way somehow through the smoke into the light to our crews."

"The firefighters, the police, the crews, the people - people screamed toward me as I made my way to the Trade Center, sobbing and crying and trying to call home on dead cell phones but they couldn't get through," Marin recalled. She said a paramedic truck drove her halfway back to the CBS broadcast center, then a bus driver finished the journey, bringing her to the building on his empty bus.

Years later, in recalling her experience, Marin said she does have one regret: she didn't ask that firefighter's name.

"My deepest regret is when it first happened, when I made that first just bolt to survive and that firefighter saved me, that I didn't have the presence of mind to say, 'Tell me your name,'" Marin said in a 2011 interview.

"I hope he's alive. I wish I could thank him," she said.

In that same interview years later, Marin said every few years, she resolves that she won't talk about her experience on Sept. 11 anymore.

"I feel guilty about talking about it in the sense that I was the one saved," she said. "I wasn't the one who saved anybody. And I always have a fear of exploiting this as opposed to simply explaining what I saw that day."

"But I don't dwell on it and I think that in this country, our job is to learn from the past, never forget the past but look ahead more than we look behind, if we can," Marin continued.

"I've been asked, 'If something like this happens again, what would you do?' And my response is: I would do the same thing because this is what we do. This is what I am. I'm a reporter. My job is one of telling stories and I would want to be there to tell it."

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