A 9/11 Story

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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The Pentagon after a large jetliner crashed into the side of it on 9/11/2001.
U.S. Department of Defense

NEW YORK - Just over a week ago, Monday, September 11, 2023, the nation observed the 22nd anniversary of the horrific attacks on the United States that brought down the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York with two airliners, crashed a jetliner full of passengers in a Pennsylvania field, and another jetliner into the side of the Pentagon. Over three thousand people were killed, which is slightly more than were killed at Pearl Harbor.

TAP Electric, an electrical firm in New York, was in business on that day (as they are now), and they shared a story with RT&S about worker experiences when they were called by MTA to inspect parts of the New York Subway after the attack. We appreciate TAP sharing this with us. Their story follows:

“As we mark the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 today, I wanted to share with you the incredible images taken by electrical engineering professionals from TAP Electric, an MTA Contractor for 40 Years (since 1983) that had crews totaling 20-25 people called in on 9/11 by the NYC MTA, to go down into the subways, probe the conditions and to turn off electrical service as much as they could.

All of the attached photos were taken by Richard Gilroy, who is still employed by TAP and is registered with the 9/11 Health Program, as a Bladder Cancer survivor.  Back in 2001 he was an Electrical Foreman.  He recalls that their crews were probing the A & C Line Subway Stations Across from Trinity Street/near Church Street.  There was severe flooding underground.  WTC beams and debris from the collapse came through the roof of the subway station and were blocking access in many areas. He speaks of the intense dust, smoke, fire and water all around them, so they needed to be very cautious.  Before long, after relaying the condition of the subway station and tunnel, they were ordered to pull out. At the station he was dispatched into, he recalls they were able to turn off power to the subway booth and to the turnstile gates but were unable to go further because beams from the WTC Towers had broken through the subway and were protruding above the tracks and station. 

“Down there with him was Jeffrey Cardillo, part of the 3rd Generation of the family that founded TAP Electric.  At the time he was an Assistant Communication Manager.  Now he is in management at the union electrical contracting firm.  He and Gilroy had been working on an overnight MTA Subway modernization project close to Yankee Stadium.  They each went home after their shifts to shower and then go to sleep. Jeff was still living at home, so his mom called and told him what happened.  He got dressed and went into the office, where the company dispatched a bunch of its trucks and crews – after getting the MTA call for assistance.  

 “The company had sent crews, asked to fan out and operate in 4 MTA subway stations.  At the station where he was, they got to where they needed to access the electrical panels and mains and had brought all the necessary tools underground with them but didn’t get to shut down the service. He said after they were told by NYPD to leave the underground stations because they were unsafe and flooded, they went to the bucket brigades.  [He] recalls helping to remove an FDNY Firefighter who had fallen into a void, needed to be removed and taken out on a stretcher. His reaction to being there, was that he was shocked by the utter destruction, but then they were surrounded by people from everywhere – other states who came to pitch in.  Everyone worked together and when they thought they found something, everything fell silent. 

“Also, there was Frank Taranto, who has since retired from TAP Electric but at the time of the terrorist attack, he was a Project Supervisor.  Frank is registered with the 9/11 Health Program as a precaution and goes there for regular annual visits.  Frank indicated he was NOT there on day 1 (had to get his wife out of NYC), but was there on Sept 13, 14, 16 and recalls working in a void/hole that was approximately 12FT x 12FT x 4Ft Deep, adjacent to a destroyed FDNY Fire Truck with NYPD officers and cadaver dog handlers.  The dogs would sniff and pounce on an area and that spot was where they were to dig.  He and his partner on the pile from TAP (John Gavin) uncovered the remains/actually a head of a blond woman, after the dogs signaled to them where to extract it. It was passed up to NYPD and they just kept working.  He said they had so many human remains on them (odor of) that the cadaver dogs kept jumping all over them, picking up the scents of the human remains that had apparently gotten all over their work clothes.  He also explained that at one point he and his team were down in the subway tunnel under the Millennium Hotel, but the crew was told to evacuate and escorted out by NYPD who explained to them that the hotel building was swaying and that the exterior of it was not secure, so officials feared instability and further collapses.