13 People Who Narrowly Escaped Death on 9/11

Did you know that there are a bunch of celebrities who narrowly escaped death on 9/11? The terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001, claimed over 3,000 lives in New York City, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, PA. Those who died on that September morning are lauded as heroes, saints, and true Americans. Thankfully, however, there are also many stories about people who narrowly escaped death on 9/11. Several celebrities, chefs, flight attendants, musicians, and employees at the World Trade Center cheated death when they avoided boarding one of the flights that were taken hostage that morning, or when they failed to go to work at the Twin Towers that day. Amidst all the deaths there are some truly amazing stories of little tweaks that saved lives.

Both ordinary people and celebrities alike made small decisions that morning that ended up being the difference between life and death. Some of these seemingly insignificant changes to their routines included train delays, a chance encounter with Gwyneth Paltrow, a hangover, a last minute need for an eyeglass repair, a flight change, and a cigarette break. If these people hadn't made these exact choices that morning, it's unlikely that they would have survived 9 1 1.

Some still carry survivor's guilt for their near brushes with death on 9/11, while others chalk it up as a miracle that they're still alive. Still others have brushed it off as mere coincidence, and refuse to allow their lives to be defined by what could have happened that day. One of the famous survivors, Mark Wahlberg, later landed himself in hot water for claiming had he been on one of those planes, he would've fought the attackers and saved the day. Seth Macfarlane, however, was just grateful he missed his flight, which ended up being one of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers.      

Join us in remembering September 11th, 2001 by honoring the heroes who died in the attacks that day, as well as those who lived to tell their tales. 

  • Mark Wahlberg
    Photo: Kathy Reesey / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Mark Wahlberg was supposed to board American Airlines Flight 11, along with Seth MacFarlane. Instead, he was invited to attend a film festival in Toronto, and decided to charter a jet with some of his friends.   

    Wahlberg stirred up quite a bit of controversy in later years by claiming that if he had been on that flight, he would have stopped the attacks from happening. He later apologized for his insensitive comment to the families of the victims of those who actually boarded the plane that morning. 

  • Seth MacFarlane
    Video: YouTube

    Like Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane was supposed to board American Airlines Flight 11. MacFarlane had been out drinking the night before, and had a history of missing flights. His travel agent also listed the flight time as being ten minutes later than it actually was.  

    After failing to board the plane, he went to the passenger lounge to sleep it off. He awoke an hour later to the panicked sounds of other people at the airport who had just watched the plane hit the tower. After the second plane hit, the airline announced which flights had been involved in the attack. Macfarlane realized that the plane he was supposed to be on was the plane that crashed into the North Tower. 

  • Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
    Video: YouTube

    The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, was filming an interview on Good Morning America on the morning of September 11th, 2001. She finished up the segment, and was on her way to her office on the 101st floor of the North Tower at 1 World Trade Center when she heard the news. 

    None of the employees at her charity, Chances for Children, were killed.  

  • Lara Lundstrom Clarke

    If Laura Lundstrom Clarke hadn't run into Gwyneth Paltrow on the morning of September 11th, she may have been in her office on the 77th floor of the South Tower that day. Paltrow was driving home from a yoga class when Clarke jaywalked in front of her car. Clarke realized that it was Paltrow, and the two paused for a moment, each waiting for the other to move along.  

    Clarke missed her train at the Christopher St. station, and had to wait for the next downtown 1. When she emerged from the subway station at 8:47am, the first plane crashed into the North Tower. 

  • Patti Austin
    Video: YouTube

    Grammy winner Patti Austin was supposed to be on United Flight 93 that day. Her mother had a stroke in San Francisco, however, and the singer had to change her travel plans. Later, her manager reminded her of just how narrowly she had escaped certain death on Flight 93. That flight was taken over by passengers, but unfortunately, the plane still crashed.

    Austin recalled how her manager broke the news of her near miss. "Remember, you were supposed to go to the second day of the show, and you had get out first thing in the morning, and that was the only thing that left early enough in the morning to get you back into San Francisco in time to be with your mom,' and I completely lost it," says Austin. 

    • Born: 08-10-1950
    • Birthplace: New York City, USA, New York, Harlem
  • Chef Michael Lomonaco

    Chef Michael Lomonaco’s poor eyesight saved him that day. The chef - known for overseeing three popular Manhattan restaurants, including the famous Windows of the World restaurant on the 106th and 107th floors of 1 World Trade - had an appointment to get his glasses repaired at noon that day at the Lens Crafters in the lobby.  

    He decided to see if he could get them repaired earlier. Around 8:15, Lomonaco stopped in to have his glasses repaired. He was delayed for half an hour, waiting for his glasses to be ready. As he headed back up towards the restaurant, he heard the rumble of the attack. 

    "It was a feeling like I've never felt before," he said. "I couldn't really hear anything, but this rumble was unusual. Later I would realize it was the impact of the first plane."

    • Born: 01-01-1955
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York