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Remembering 9/11 through George Sleigh.

September 11, 2009

“My faith did not save me, but it has sustained me.”–George Sleigh, 9/11 survivor”

Ben Sley

George Sleigh

George Sleigh

I have a dear friend, George Sleigh, (pictured here), who survived 9/11. He was on the 91st floor of the North Tower at the time — no one on the floor above him, the 92nd floor and above survived. Most everyone on his floor, the 91st floor, and below lived. The plane, a fully-fueled American Airlines 767, Flight 11 from Boston’s Logan Int’l Airport, sliced into the 93rd floor to the 98th floor at an angle, trapping those on the 92nd floor and above. George was then the Manager of technical consistency at the American Bureau of Shipping with a corner office on the 91st floor. The plane was close enough that just before impact, George could actually see into the cockpit. George stated,

“I was at my desk in the morning looking forward to a normal day when I heard this loud noise. I looked up out of the window and just a few feet away from the building was this huge jet plane. The wheels were down and I could see the people in the cockpit. I thought to myself ‘Man this guy is low in the air’ but I still thought it would clear us. But then it smashed into the tower a few floors above me. I couldn’t believe it, even now it seems insane that anyone would do that, even a crazed terrorist.”

After the impact, he got out from the rubble of ceiling tiles and debris around his desk, looked up and saw exposed steel beams and the concrete underside of the 92nd floor. He didn’t know it at the time, but that concrete floor was the bottom of a tomb for more than 1,300 people. Nobody survived on the floors above him. The line between life and death that morning was as straight as a steel beam.

George said, “No one inside the buildings expected that they would fall.” He related some of the unusual, but understandable things that he and some of his coworkers did just then, thinking that the building would remain intact and that they would eventually return to their offices after evacuating for a time. George retrieved the briefcase he is carrying in the picture. Another guy went back to shut down his PC and a third watered his plants, remembering that they had withered and died for lack of water after the 1993 bombing.

George told the Newcastle (England) Evening Chronicle of his harrowing escape from the devastated building.

The stairwells became increasingly congested as hundreds of office workers fled, some of whom were badly burned. After half an hour he reached the 25th floor and it was then he saw the first firefighters going up the stairs to tackle the flames.

George said: “Their faces were grim as though they knew what they would be encountering when they got there. When I saw afterwards how the towers fell I knew those men wouldn’t have made it. It was heart-breaking.”

It was after he had was able to get down the stairwell going down for some 91 floors and was in the subway underground basement area when the North Tower collapsed. George told a group of us at a church gathering that with the billowing dust and ash, total darkness, ground shaking and rumbling, it was then he thought to himself, “I had always wondered how I would die. Now I know.” But God had other plans for George, and, miraculously, spared his life. You can see in the photo just how engulfed in dust and ash George had been at the time.

When asked whether or not his faith saved him that day, George says, “No. There were others who shared my faith who died that day. My faith did not save me, but it has sustained me.” Thank you, George, for these words of faith and hope! In that regard, a more accurate translation of Philippians 4:13 is, perhaps, appropriate here, “I can endure all things through Christ who strengthens me.” George was able to endure because of his Sustainer.

George says, “I keep Proverbs 23:4-5 taped to the top of the computer monitor which spews forth the day’s financial quotes. It reminds me, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich: have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” Financial wealth is one of life’s many false idols, perhaps even the greatest one. I try to remind myself of that as I remember the events of 9/11 and as I watch each stock tick, ticker away…”.

George, continued blessings to you, my friend! God has spared you that you may tell others of His many Mercies, Grace and Sustenance even in the midst of such adversity. He is The Great Sustainer! Godspeed to you!

*I have compiled several of George’s statements as expressed in this entry from several sources I wish to acknowledge. You can click on them for the complete story:

BBC News
USA Today
Broadleaf Partners

Find out more about Ben Sley at Patriot Skyline

Live Free Or Die!

This story of George Sleigh as told by Ben Sley is an example of the stories we so seldom hear, and one so important, because George was there!

  1. September 11, 2011 9:09 pm

    absolutely appalled to read some of the comments here, , I was the photographer that took the picture of George Sleigh and fellow survivors that day, if you were not there you will never have a clue what it was like.

    You are reading the accounts from a reporters who each have given there own interpretations of the stories but yet are questioning the integrity of a man that is lucky to be alive.

    I had even heard a rumor that the picture was staged,

    I had the pleasure of meeting with george the other day and he is in good spirits, and doing well.


    Phil Penman

    • Tamara Heater permalink
      November 3, 2011 8:45 am

      God bless you and yours and keep our friend safe! Thank you Phil for the update!


  2. Katrina permalink
    September 8, 2011 2:19 pm

    I grew up with Mr. Sleigh’s kids in NJ (We went to the same church.) He has always been someone I’ve looked up to and admired. Simply put: he embodies integrity. Thank you, Tamara, for celebrating him and telling his story. I’ll never forget how I felt when his son let me know that he had survived. Saddens me that people who’ve never met someone can so quickly tear them down. He’d never claim to be a hero. Just a survivor.

    • Tamara Heater permalink
      September 8, 2011 3:30 pm

      Thank you so very much for your comments! It is great to know he has wonderful neighbors and friends who will stand with him. Thank you again!

  3. truth permalink
    June 23, 2011 9:31 pm

    Sorry, but this guy’s story has been debunked before.

    His story keeps changing (wheels up, wheels down). If you read through a few of his interviews, you will find that the details keeps changing.

    Do you really think someone could “look into the eyes” of the “terrorists” flying the plane…at 500 mph?

    If he escaped the tower before it fell, and was put on an ambulance, why is he covered in dust, as though a tower had fallen?

    Another “hero”, like the DC taxi cab driver, and Todd Beamer, that has been debunked.

    911 was an inside job.

    • Tamara Heater permalink
      June 29, 2011 3:24 am

      you need mental help….

  4. April 11, 2011 7:18 pm

    I find it hard to believe that George saw people in the cockpit.
    Isn’t there a Sleight chance he’s full of it?

    • Tamara Heater permalink
      April 11, 2011 8:41 pm

      there is an asshole and a dick head in every crowd, how did you get BOTH awards….????? Congratulations!

    • Tamara Heater permalink
      April 11, 2011 8:45 pm

      just another union jack anarchist pinko commie!

  5. Tom Dumican permalink
    February 24, 2011 9:01 am

    I am currently researching the stories of British 9/11 survivors for a documentary and would be extremely grateful if you could pass my post onto Mr Sleigh.

    Kindest regards
    Tom Dumican / Producer

    • Tamara permalink
      February 24, 2011 11:04 pm

      Hi Tom, I will try to get in touch with Ben Sley, and let you know. Thank you!

  6. l.irving permalink
    September 13, 2009 2:05 pm


    • Tamara permalink
      September 14, 2009 6:31 am

      I will certainly pass it on….

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