Monday, September 5, 2011

15 – Woman of the Year

A year after the attack on the World Trade Center, a relatively unknown hero of 9/11 was named woman of the year by the Women’s Transportation Seminar, a national organization dedicated to promoting women in transportation.
Vicky Kelly, a resident of West Caldwell, was deputy director of the Port Authority’s PATH system on Sept. 11, 2001. Her quick reaction, officials say, saved as many as 5,000 people on that day.
She was at a breakfast meeting in the North Tower when the first plane struck, and she immediately realized something very serious had occurred. She called the PATH control center and had all service rerouted away from the World Trade Center.
She didn’t even have all the details of the attack at the time, but knew that on a normal day as many as 120,000 people used the PATH as a jumping off point to jobs elsewhere in lower Manhattan, and many of them were on their way to the World Trade Center at that very moment.
She called Richard Morgan, then the train master and told him to keep all passengers from being discharged in the PATH station at the bottom of the World Trade Center towers
Two trains were at that moment pulling into the station, both from Hoboken.
These passengers – estimated at about 3,000 – were quickly escorted out of the building and into the streets. One of the two trains headed back to the Jersey side helping to evacuate some of the PA personnel. A third train approached and the engineer was ordered to keep the doors closed and the train was sent back to New Jersey, eventually ending up at Exchange Place in Jersey City.
Kelly then ordered all other trains halted from making the crossing – five to six trains – and Kelly remained at the station until the trains were empty or set back, and the station closed.

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