A DARLINGTON man who witnessed the atrocity of the September 11 terror attacks in New York has recounted his experience when the second plane hit the south tower.

Simon Watson, now living in London but originally from Darlington, worked in a building facing the towers on that tragic late summer day in 2001.

Although Mr Watson did not see the first attack, he witnessed the second attack directly as it happened.

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The second plane flew past the building he was in and was so close, according to Mr Watson, he could “see people through the windows of the plane as it went past.”

Mr Watson said: “Because the towers were at an angle, you could only ever see one tower, you could only ever see the south tower because the north tower was behind it.

“On that day, exactly as people recall, a beautiful day, I was actually at my desk on a call with my boss talking to a client.

“Then everyone rushed to the window, and it just looked like confetti coming out of the building and we could only see the smoke, we couldn’t actually see anything.

“Everybody then got bored of looking out the window and went to sit down, the call between my boss and I then finishes so we go up to take a look.

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“As we are looking the second plane goes right past the window, to the point where I could see people through the windows of the plane as it went past.

“The realisation that it was a terrorist attack was the angle that the plane hit the building, because it tilted its wings to get maximum impact into the building.

“I then turned around and shouted ‘I’ve just seen a plane hit the world trade centre, let’s get out of here’, and it was like a disaster movie, we were all running down the stairs.

“Once we got to the bottom, our boss sent us all home, and walking home it was like a disaster movie in New York where all of the cars were stopped with radios going.

“I didn’t see the towers fall, I was walking home and then when I got home I put the TV on and that’s when I saw it.

“I left New York in December of 2001 to come back to London and then I stayed with Goldman Sachs and then went back to New York seven years ago.

“And to put some symmetry on the whole thing, we’ve literally just arrived back in the UK after retiring from Goldman Sachs this year.

“That’s kind of the story.”

Speaking about the anniversaries of the September 11 attacks, he said that he often spends them in “quiet reflection”.

He said: “We spend them in quiet reflection, I had never actually been to the museum in New York, but before I left I went and it was a very moving thing.

“There are obviously lots of people that are more connected to it than me, and I didn’t know anyone who had died, and I wasn’t as directly impacted because I wasn’t covered in dust.

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“Every year I’ll sit and reflect on it and we will definitely do that tomorrow, but I’m not one of these people that narrowly escaped death or lost two people, so I’m a little bit less connected to it.

“I think the going back to New York was a bit of unfinished business, so when that opportunity came, that was an interesting thing to go back and live there.

“But I don’t think it’s had a big negative impact, the only obvious things are like ‘seize the day’ and take the opportunities that are presented to you.

“When we had the opportunity to go back to New York, we grabbed the opportunity to go and live there, we had an amazing time there.

“It makes me laugh when I read about all the conspiracy theories online and stuff, when people say there were no planes, but there were definitely planes and I actually saw it with my own eyes come past the window.

“The one thing that I would say about impact, the memory obviously comes back pretty clearly whenever I see planes flying low overhead.

“For a while that obviously freaked me out whenever you heard a plane and you have to remember that on the day, I think people kind of forget this, that the worry was there was a lot more coming.

“Living in New York in the weeks after that, people thought there was another big attack coming so it was strange being there with fighter jets constantly circling Manhattan.

“Bizarrely we did a lot of drinking, because we were obviously given a lot of time off work, so people sat in their apartments for a day and then once people got over that, the bars were all full.”

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