Some of the first responders that saved lives during the terror attacks in New York City 11 years ago now live in the Valley and are taking the time to remember those lost on that horrific day.
As a member of the NYPD's Cobra Counter-Terrorist team, Joseph Lutrario thought he was prepared for anything.
"(Cobra) was created back in 1993 when they bombed the World Trade Center the first time," he explained.
However, as he pulled up to the towers minutes after the first crash, Lutrario knew he was dealing with something out of the ordinary.
"The first thing I did notice was part of a plane. I started to get out of the truck, and I was in total shock. There was just so much going on," he said.
"Things were falling from the sky as big as tractor-trailers. Pieces of concrete. Pieces of debris from the actual buildings and plane crash. It was just total chaos," he continued.
In that chaos, Lutrario spotted a teacher who told him about the World Trade Center's daycare full of children.
"I followed her into the daycare center and we started grabbing children. (They were) infants to 3, 4, 5 years old."
With the help of fellow Cobra teammates and civilians, Lutrario was able to evacuate all of the children from the tower and bring them to safety. However, right afterwards, he ran right back into the burning buildings.
"I ran into the south tower, and I ran directly toward the stairway in the first floor lobby."
Seconds later, that building began to shake violently.
"The marble floors were like waves literally just buckling beneath my feet," he described.
"I had no idea the building was coming down. That was the furthest thing from my mind."
After the collapse, Lutrario was trapped. He said he does not remember how long he was buried alive.
"I just remember being in this little dark space and not being able to breathe. Not being able to see. Not really knowing if I was alive."
Lutrario was eventually plucked from the rubble but he refused to leave.
"I did not leave the ground zero site until Oct. 30."
Now, 11 years later, he makes sure to spend the day remembering those who lost their lives that autumn morning.
"I think it's very important to teach the children what that day was so they don't forget about it."
"(We can't) just to remember the bad that happened on that day. Know you can carry on and that you can move through something as tragic as that was. You can move forward. "
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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