September 23, 2014

Medina
Sunny
63°F

Retired firefighter barely escaped death in 9/11 terrorist attacks

Retired New York City firefighter Rich Murray recounts his and his fellow firefighters’ heroic actions to Medina residents at the Tunnel to Towers mobile museum Tuesday. Murray arrived at the World Trade Center seconds before the first tower fell. (ANDREW DAVIS / GAZETTE)

Retired New York City firefighter Rich Murray recounts his and his fellow firefighters’ heroic actions to Medina residents at the Tunnel to Towers mobile museum Tuesday. Murray arrived at the World Trade Center seconds before the first tower fell. (ANDREW DAVIS / GAZETTE)

Firefighter Rich Murray narrowly escaped being among the more than 400 New York firefighters and police officers who died on Sept. 11, 2001, responding to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers.

“As we walked toward a pile of debris, the North Tower came down on us,” firefighter Rich Murray, of Engine 209, Ladder 118, said. “I dove underneath a tractor-trailer on Liberty Street and I figured that that was it.”

Now retired, Murray is in Medina today providing guided tours around the 1,100-square-foot “museum on wheels” commemorating the heroic actions displayed by rescue workers. Murray survived to tell his story, but for many other rescue workers — like Steven Siller, for whom the museum is named — their lives ended that day.

Siller’s brother, Frank, created the Tunnel to Towers Foundation in Steven’s memory. The foundation hosts a 5K race each year to raise money for triple and quadruple amputee veterans of the war on terrorism.

The foundation builds these amputees smart houses, which they can control from an iPad, with the hope of living a more independent life.

The museum opened Tuesday and will be open noon to 6 p.m. today in the parking lot on the southeast corner of West Liberty Street and South Elmwood Avenue Medina.

Artifacts from the attack include pieces of tower, remnants of fire trucks and firefighter uniforms.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation will host a 5K race in Medina on Sept. 14. People who want to participate in the race can register at www.t2trun.org.

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @adavisreports.