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Aerial image of the Manhatten skyline with the Twin Towers prominently in shot

11 life-saving coincidences from the 9/11 attacks

Image: Gerd Altmann / Pixabay

On 11th September 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives and a further 6,000 were injured in a terror attack that rocked the world. As the devastating events unfolded in real time and millions looked on in horror as the Twin Towers fell, a select few were recounting the events of that morning that had prevented them from being in the area.

Here are 11 weird coincidences from 9/11 that saved people’s lives.

1. Seth McFarlane

Writer and actor Seth McFarlane had been due to fly on American Airlines flight 11 on the morning of 9/11. However, thanks to a gnarly hangover and a mix-up with flight times, Seth missed his flight by just 10 minutes. An hour later, while waiting for his replacement flight, Flight 11 flew into the North Tower, killing everyone on board.

2. Mark Wahlberg

Seth wasn’t the only celebrity due to fly on Flight 11 that morning. Actor Mark Wahlberg was originally planning to be on the same flight, but a last-minute change of heart saw him taking a flight to Canada to attend a film festival instead.

3. George Keith

When George Keith’s BMW unexpectedly shifted into first gear while driving on 10th September, he was less than impressed. The investment banker wanted his prized BMW up and running to drive into Manhattan for his 8am meeting at the World Trade Centre the following morning.

Arriving at the garage at 7am, George was frustrated to learn that the mechanics refused to work that early in the morning, forcing him to wait an extra hour for a repair that took less than five minutes.

Once his car was repaired, George made for the office but found himself stuck in traffic. As he looked up towards the tower where his meeting was supposed to take place, he spotted plumes of smoke. Switching on the car radio, he learned that a plane had just crashed into the North Tower.

4. Michael Jackson

According to Jermaine Jackson’s autobiography, Michael Jackson was supposed to be in a meeting at the top of one of the towers on the morning of 11th September but had overslept and missed his appointment. The pop star had stayed up until 3am the night before talking to his mum and sisters.

5. Greer Epstein

When Greer Epstein arrived at work, her morning routine was just like any other normal day. Checking her emails, meetings, and her daily bagel and cup of coffee in the cafeteria on the 43rd floor. She then received a call from a coworker suggesting they discuss an upcoming meeting over a cigarette break. As the elevator reached the bottom floor, it jolted and shuddered, and Greer made a mental note to herself not to take that one on her way back up to the office.

As Greer stepped out of the building, people in the street seemed to be cowering and ducking to avoid flaming paper and falling debris. Behind her, the revolving door was jammed with people trying to escape.

6. Marya Gwadz

Eight and a half months pregnant with her unborn son, 37-year-old Marya had decided to take things slow on the morning of 11th September. Running much later than usual, Marya had decided to get a later subway train and then get off a stop early so she could enjoy the beautiful day. Instead, she saw her office engulfed in flames before collapsing.

7. Nicholas Reihner

When writer Nicholas Reihner twisted his ankle while hiking on vacation to Maine, he had to miss his flight home. This small twist of fate meant that Nicholas missed his seat on American Airlines Flight 11 - the first of the planes to be hijacked that morning.

8. Lara Lundstrom Clarke

When Lara Lundstrom Clarke went rollerblading along the Hudson river before work, she had never anticipated that she might cross paths with Gwyneth Paltrow, let alone that the encounter might save her life.

As Lara cut across the road in front of Gwyneth’s silver SUV, she was completely starstruck. Dumbfounded, Lara couldn’t help but stop and stare at the actress before she continued with her day. That short moment caused her enough of a delay that she missed her morning train to work at the World Trade Centre.

9. Rob Lowe

Actor Rob Lowe had no idea when he stepped onto his flight on 1st September that he was sitting next to one of the most dangerous men in America. Returning to LA after filming for The West Wing in Washington DC, Lowe didn’t notice anything suspicious about his flight or the passenger in the seat next to him. It wasn’t until a few months later that he was asked to give evidence that he learned he had been sitting next to one of the attackers who was taking a test run for the upcoming terrorist attacks.

10. Joseph Lott

When Joseph Lott sat down to breakfast with his colleagues that morning, he was presented with a brand new tie as a present from his coworker Elaine. He was so touched by the gift that he had to put it on for the presentation he and his colleagues were giving in the World Trade Centre later that morning.

Noting that the tie clashed with the green shirt he was already wearing, Joseph’s colleagues headed on to the 101st floor of the North Tower, while Joseph quickly ran back to his hotel room to change his shirt. Just as he was exiting the lift from the hotel located between the two towers, he felt the ground below him shake. While Joseph escaped that morning thanks to his tie, Elaine and his colleagues did not.

11. David Gray

David was due to attend a meeting with his security firm’s broker in the World Trade Centre on the morning of 11th September, but he sheepishly had to reschedule due to a broken ankle. Husband of New York City Ballet’s principal ballerina, Kyra Nichols, David was embarrassed that he had broken his ankle while jumping rope at home. He rescheduled the appointment so that he could drive into Manhattan and avoid the subway with his injury.

For more articles about 9/11, check out our September 11th attacks hub