Omar Eduardo Rivera is a Colombian who lost his sight fifteen years ago. He was in his office in the 71st floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre when the terrorist attack began. Rivera did not know at the time, that a commercial aircraft had crashed into the South Tower near the 40th floor.
"I heard a terrible clatter, a brutal impact and millions of glasses breaking. The building started to stagger and it swayed like a pendulum five or six times. Salty jumped out from underneath my desk, repeatedly going to the corridor and became very nervous. In his anxiety he started pushing me out. I thought I must wait until I heard any public announcements, but in light of the dog's insistence, I decided it was time to leave.
"I put his head through the handle of his harness which signifies to him to start guiding me and we started our decent, in the company of my immediate superior, Danna Enright. The building was showing signs that it had been badly damaged. Water and fuel were running down the emergency stairs and made it very difficult to walk. Danna intended to take Salty's handle from me to speed up the process, but Salty refused to walk with her.
"I had to take the handle again in order to calm him down. I had to walk sideways and the dog would protect me from people pushing me. We would take a couple of steps and have to rest for 15 seconds to able to continue until we reached the street. At this point, we ran for blocks. Danna looked back and said, "I have never seen anything so terrible". A minute later, the noise was tremendous and the South Tower began to collapse. We took Broadway. Near the City Hall, we stopped again, and Danna said, "our tower is not there either anymore".
Omar Augusto Rivera was born in Bogotá 44 year ago. When he started going blind, he decided to go to N.Y. to see if he could find a job there. He graduated as a civil engineer at Escuela Colombiana de Ingenieria in 1983. After a year in the U.S. he went completely blind.