OCEAN CITY — In conjunction with the recent 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, students in Ocean City High School’s American Sign Language 3 Honors class signed this week with a 9/11 survivor, who is deaf.
Carl Andreasen worked on the 71st floor of the North Tower at the World Trade Center in Manhattan when hijackers on American Airlines Flight 11 hit the building at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11. Hijackers on another plane, United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the South Tower about 15 minutes later.
Both towers collapsed that morning. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, which included a third jet crash into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. and the crash of a fourth plane, United Flight 93, in a field near Shanksville, Pa.
Students in Ocean City’s ASL program spoke to Andreasen through a classroom videophone Monday, Sept. 12, according to a press release. Andreasen told the students of his experience through signing.
According to the press release, deaf employees at the World Trade Center had a hard time communicating with colleagues inside the towers after the planes hit.
After the first plane hit the North Tower, Andreasen met his friend, Susan, who is also deaf. The two immediately headed for the stairwell, ignoring comments from one man who told them to go back up to their office and evacuate with proper protocol. It took them about 45 minutes to exit the building, according to the release.
“They were then able to walk to a school for the deaf, where they knew they would find deaf-friendly services such as a teletypewriter and interpreters to help them call their families and let them know they were alive,” the release read.
Andreasen told the students he was not able to return to his wife and children at their Jersey City home until 7 p.m. that night. After the attacks, his office was eventually moved there, he said.
Andreasen had also evacuated the towers in 1993 when a truck bomb exploded in a parking garage underneath the North Tower.
“I think students took two things away from the experience,” ASL teacher Amy Andersen said in the release. “They gained more of an understanding of how significant this horrific event was and is in our history. They also gained new insight into how important it is to always level the playing field for everyone in our society.”
The students asked questions to Andreasen after he told them his story. The release stated that it presented a great opportunity to the students to be able to use their second language with a guest speaker.
“There was no voice interpreting for this,” Andersen said. “They had to manage on their own with understanding him and asking questions. The students were great.”
According to the release, the students who took part included Brianna Snyder, Megan Montemuro, Victoria McHugh, Stellanie Yiannos, Maddie Hunt, Liam Bradley, Michael Beebe, Valerie Galderisi, Kiera Quade, Jenna Oliver, Emily Scherer, Nicholl Fenton, and Delany Driscoll.