Survivor Recounts Aftermath And Impact Of World Trade Center Attack

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - John Mahoney was working on the 19th floor of tower one of the World Trade Center, when the first plane hit.

At St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Mahoney recounted the destruction, the confusion, and a prayer he recited as a the towers crumbled around him.

"I'd start 'Our Father," then get a couple of lines in and some random thought, maybe 'I could survive if I do this, maybe I should cross to the other side, or what's happening to this team member?"' would interrupt me, and I'd have to start again," said Mahoney.

He and his coworkers at IBM evacuated the rubble safely. But they couldn't escape the cloud of toxic fumes caused by the crash. Mahoney is riddled with health problems, a direct result of the fumes he inhaled that day.

"The cloud has in fact killed me, just not quite yet," said Mahoney.

Mahoney refused to dwell on the illness. He says he lives his days as best he can. Instead he focuses on the glimmers of hope within the heartache.

"In every tragedy, if you look at the first responders, if you look at the heroism, there is ample evidence of heroes," said Mahney.  "The best of humanity comes out in crisis, and that's what they should remember."

Most importantly for Mahoney, he sets his sights on God, who he says was by his side amidst the destruction, and stands by his side still.

"Someplace between the 12th and 11th floor, between 'our father and 'thy will be done,' that feeling of warmth just wrapped itself around me," said Mahoney. "I felt God's presence so closely, and I knew no matter what happened that day it would be alright. And it had nothing to do with whether I survived."