It was September 2001 and I had been despatched to New York to cowl a boxing match for a Puerto Rican newspaper. It was a world championship bout between Puerto Rican boxer Felix Trinidad and the American boxer Bernard Hopkins.

Trinidad was a very good buddy of mine and the paper would ship me to cowl most of his fights. I’d requested to not go on that specific deployment however I used to be advised I needed to go.

So, on Saturday, September 8, I boarded a flight from the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan.

The combat was scheduled to happen on the next Saturday at Madison Sq. Backyard.

On the morning of September 11, I headed to Central Park with photojournalists from two different Puerto Rican newspapers. Hopkins’ crew had blocked entry to his coaching periods, which was uncommon, however we hoped to identify him coaching within the park. We agreed that if one in all us noticed him, we’d share the placement with the others so we may every get the photographs. It labored, and after we’d taken the images, we went for breakfast on 53rd Avenue.

That was when a kind of I used to be with acquired a name from Puerto Rico telling him a airplane had crashed into the World Commerce Middle. At first, he thought it was a joke. Then my boss known as and advised me to get to the towers to {photograph} the crash.

We instantly picked up our cameras and left, asking a taxi to take us to downtown.

By this time, the town – from 14th Avenue to downtown – had been sealed to everyone besides first responders. We acquired as shut as we may however have been nonetheless a way from the towers. So we jumped out of the taxi, handed the driving force a $20 invoice and began working alongside West Broadway in direction of the towers. As we ran the 35 blocks, weaving out and in of the crowds, we stopped sometimes to {photograph} the chaos round us.

After about 25 minutes, we have been inside a block of the towers and there, on a quiet nook between Park Place and West Broadway, I noticed a policeman, trying up on the North Tower. There was no one else round. I took a photograph of him – capturing a picture of that day that has been broadly used since.

Firefighters stroll in direction of one of many towers on the World Commerce Middle earlier than it collapsed after a airplane hit the constructing on September 11, 2001, in New York Metropolis [Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Getty Images]

As I carried on strolling in direction of the towers, a person in an FBI jacket handed me by. Shortly after, one other in a Secret Service jacket walked previous. I discovered it unusual that they might be there for a airplane crash.

I rotated and began strolling in direction of the West Facet Freeway, and as I used to be strolling, I noticed the primary individual leap. She was a Black lady, in a sensible skirt and vest high. I may see her clearly. It was like she was simply floating.

I picked up my digital camera and took a photograph. I bear in mind saying to my fellow photographer Xavier Araujo, “Wow, any person simply jumped.” However he refused to consider me. He thought it was a chunk of the constructing falling. However I used to be shut sufficient to inform it was an individual. I used to be so shut I may see her face. She appeared calm and relaxed, as if she had no different choice however to leap. She wasn’t screaming for assist or out of worry. I knew I used to be fortunate to not see her hit the pavement.

Once we acquired to the west facet of the North Tower, we noticed many different individuals leaping from the home windows. These photographs have stayed with me, and I usually surprise what should have gone by their minds earlier than they determined to leap.

I had been there for about 20 minutes once I heard the horrible sound, like an enormous tree department breaking, because the North Tower crumbled.

I photographed it because it collapsed and it was solely then, when it not obscured my view, that I realised the South Tower had additionally fallen fully.

As I ran from the mayhem, I took one body of a person kneeling on the ground crying, his shirt all torn. I switched lenses and noticed a baby working and screaming. As I took that body, it jogged my memory of the picture of the “Napalm woman” from the Vietnam Conflict.

I spotted my digital playing cards have been all full, so I ran just a few blocks to the Getty Photos workplace on Varick Avenue. There, I used to be importing the contents of my reminiscence card to a pc after we have been advised we wanted to evacuate the constructing as a result of the police suspected a bomb had been positioned on the Holland Tunnel, adjoining to the workplace.

I left and took a taxi again to my lodge, from the place I filed the pictures I had taken. My newspaper ran a late version that day and used my pictures for it.

Individuals grasp from the home windows of the North Tower of the World Commerce Middle after a hijacked airliner hit the constructing on September 11, 2001, in New York Metropolis [Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Getty Images]

For the remainder of the day, I stayed in my room. I cried quite a bit. I bear in mind calling my ex-wife however being barely in a position to converse. Between sobs, I screamed, attempting to inform her how many individuals I had seen leap from the towers.

To today, I nonetheless haven’t any recollection of what I did between 6pm on September 11 and the next morning. It should have been due to the shock.

Once I awoke at 6am on September 12, I walked for greater than 20 blocks in direction of the towers. I didn’t see a single individual throughout that stroll, not even a canine. I remorse not having taken these footage as a result of I’m positive that was the one time in New York Metropolis’s historical past that the streets have been so empty. I want these photographs existed, someplace different than simply in my thoughts, as a result of they have been a part of the 9/11 story, too.

I spent 21 days overlaying the 9/11 story earlier than photographing the postponed Trinidad-Hopkins combat on September 29 and eventually returning to Puerto Rico.

Immediately, I nonetheless have flashbacks – photographs of the individuals standing within the home windows earlier than they jumped. I’m wondering what it was they noticed that helped them make peace with that call.

Extra importantly, it has at all times jogged my memory how fragile we’re and that as human beings, we must always give respect an opportunity. All races, cultures and nations ought to halt this fixed creation of scars that has led to so many wars and conflicts comparable to 9/11.