Blind man tells how guide dog saved him from the World Trade Center during 9/11 attack

CARY, NC (WNCN) — Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Now, a man who made it out of one of the twin towers is sharing his story in Cary.

That man, who is blind, was able to escape at the World Trade Center.

“Just like everyone else, we ran to get away from the collapsing tower,” said Michael Hingson.

Hingson’s story isn’t just one about survival. It’s also a story of teamwork: escaping from the World Trade Center on September 11 without being able to see.

He was in the North Tower when the first plane hit.

“We were on the 78th floor on the north side of the building.  We had no clue what happened,” he said.

Hingson has been blind since birth. But he had his guide dog, Roselle, with him. Together, they made their way down the staircase, as a team.

“As we were going down the stairs, she had to sense the fear from other people.  It was my responsibility to be confident and encourage her.  ‘Good girl, Roselle.  You’re going down the stairs.  Doing a good job,’” he said.

And even when they became engulfed in the dust cloud, they ran together.

“No way I would have been able to run successfully if it hadn’t been for Roselle,” Hingson said.

Roselle passed away in 2011. That same year, Hingson published Thunder Dog, which tells the story of a man and his guide dog.

“People ask me what I thought about September 11th, what I think about today,” he said.

Hingson lives in California now and speaks across the country. On the day before the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, he spoke at West Regional Library in Cary.There’s now a new teammate by his side: his guide dog, Africa. But the story of how he and Roselle survived will always live on.

“I will remember Roselle,” he said. “She was a great guide dog.”

Hingson’s book made the New York Times bestseller list the first week that it was released. He also helped create Roselle’s Dream Foundation, which helps blind people obtain technologies to help them succeed.

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