He could also hear the emergency alarm beeping on his firefighter gear. After a while, so did rescuers, who dug him out, held his skull together and loaded him onto a back board. They evacuated him to a boat for transport to a hospital. As they secured him on the boat, the second tower collapsed. Debris crashed into the docks, then rained down on the boat, burying Torrillo alive, strapped to a board and unable to move, see or breath clearly. Nearly an hour later, he was found and rescued for the second time that day.
“I woke up in a hospital in New Jersey,” he said.
He’d left his officer’s dress uniform at his old firehouse, borrowing an off-duty firefighter's gear to help with the rescue effort. When a crew found his uniform in a locker room three days later, the NYFD assumed he was dead.
Contrary to doctors' predictions, he is walking and, though now retired from the NYFD, he travels the country hoping to encourage the "Re-United States of America."
As a representative of the USA, he said, he almost had to skip the Ottumwa visit to do his civic duty as a citizen. He recently returned from Guantanamo Bay, the military facility in Cuba. Prosecutors have asked him to testify in the trials of five men on trial in connection with the terrorist attack on 9/11.
"Now I'm able to confront them in court," he said later.
News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark