From her vantage point on the Triborough Bridge, a vantage point she would be forced to keep for a solid six hours, Memphian Pat Kerr Tigrett watched the Twin Towers crumble to ash.
In New York for work with her fashion company, Pat Kerr Incorporated, she was scheduled to fly out Tuesday and actually watched the first plane hit the World Trade Center as her taxi made its way to the airport. Late Wednesday afternoon, Tigrett called the Flyer from her cell phone to tell of what she saw.
"I saw the first plane hit on the way to the airport, but I didn't realize what happened," said Tigrett. "I turned to the cab driver and said, 'Oh my God, look at that building!,' He looked and then said, 'That's the Twin Towers!'"
When Tigrett arrived at the airport she learned that her Northwest Airlines flight had been cancelled, but not because of the attacks, just a normal airline cancellation. While she waited to board a US Air flight she saw, from a distance, one airline supervisor mouth to another that the airport was about to be closed. Tigrett says she grabbed all of her bags and dashed outside to catch a cab before the news of the closure was released and all the cabs were gone.
"We got back on the Triborough Bridge and from there I saw the first building collapse. I can't even explain what that looked like. I was just trying to get back to the Carlisle [Hotel] - it's like a second home - but they weren't letting anybody into Manhattan."
Tigrett, who now says that she won't ever travel anywhere again without a map, told the Flyer that her cab got stuck in the Bronx and that neither she nor the driver knew where they were. Using her cell phone, she contacted friends and family who helped her navigate a way out.
"My taxi driver and all the drivers around us were screaming into their cell phones that all the tunnels and bridges were being closed, but here we were stuck on the bridge. We were only moving like an inch an hour. Eventually we were able to inch north. I'm north of the city now, in White Plains, New York."
Tigrett says that she then called another Memphian, Federal Express' Fred Smith, whose daughters Molly and Kathleen were also in Manhattan.
"One of the girls was at NYU and the other was at Saks. I told Fred that if he could talk to them and just get them to me then they could stay with me. So they're with me now."
Though Tigrett, Molly, and Kathleen all say that they're fine, they don't know how long it will be before they are able to return to Memphis.
"We're fine and we're really in no hurry to go anywhere. It's all just so unreal. It's just now starting to settle in. Everybody is walking around in disbelief. There's just this eerie calm that's taken over the whole city. But what I experienced was so incidental - so zero - compared to what others have gone through."