NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A former New York City paramedic who had a brush with death after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center says he is still feeling the effects 12 years later.
Chevalo Wilsondebriano now lives in North Charleston. Wilsondebriano was stationed in the borough of Queens and was a first responder after the planes hit the twin towers.
"They immediately then sent me in a disaster ambulance," Wilsondebriano said." I was on the phone with my then girlfriend who told me that a tower had collapsed and the truth is, I didn't believe her."
Soon, Wilsondebriano would see for himself.
He and his crew treated firefighters who got out of the first falling tower.
"I looked up and I saw this gaping hole in the side of the world trade center, all this fire and smoke coming from it," the former paramedic recalled. "I just couldn't believe it that this monument of steel was just so broken up there, it was real surreal for me."
Wilsondebriano was about to have a brush with death.
"I start hearing this rumble, this rumble underneath, the biggest rumble I've ever felt underneath the ground. All the firefighters said that's the other tower, let's get out and they started running, so I just followed them and we started running. If I went inside, I would have been a dead man."
"I was really preparing myself for someone to call and say he wasn't gonna come home," said Monique Wilsondebriano, who is Chevalo's wife.
He did come home, and received a medal for his part on that dark day, but several of his friends died in the attack.
"How do you recover from losing you know and over 300 co workers? You just can't get over it," Wilsondebriano said.
The North Charleston man will rely on his family to get him through today.
"Really just hug our children and let them know that we love them and we hope we never have to go through a horror like this ever again."
Wilsondebriano said he worked at ground zero for several weeks, helping to recover bodies.