He did not identify the name of the victim in this interview, but he did identify the name of the victim as Mr. Felipe David (a native of Honduras, working for the American catering company Aramark) in several other interviews. Mr. David was released after spending 10 weeks recovering in the hospital; first in the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center burn unit, and then in Mount Sinai Medical Center's rehab program. He had suffered third degree burns covering 40% of his upper body while escaping from the basement of 1 World Trade Center.
The fire, the ball of fire, for example, I was in the basement when the first plane hit the building. And at that moment, I thought it was an electrical generator that blew up at that moment. A person comes running into the office saying 'explosion, explosion, explosion.' When I look at this guy; has all his skin pulled off of his body. Hanging from the top of his fingertips like it was a glove. And I said, what happened? He said the elevators. What happened was the ball of fire went down with such a force down the elevator shaft on the 58th (50A) – freight elevator, the biggest freight elevator that we have in the North Tower, it went out with such a force that it broke the cables. It went down, I think seven flights. The person survived because he was pulled from the B3 level. But this person, being in front of the doors waiting for the elevator, practically got his skin vaporized."
At that same NIST meeting, however, Rodriguez told investigators that he was "the last survivor pulled from the rubble". In fact, there were at least 18 survivors pulled from the rubble of the North Tower long after Rodriguez walked out of the building unharmed. The last survivor was Genelle Guzman-McMillan, who was rescued some 26 hours later at approximately 12:30 p.m. on September 12, 2001.
By August 17, 2007, after more than two years of telling his story to enthralled audiences, he told C-SPAN:
All of a sudden at 8:46… we hear 'BOOM!' An explosion so powerful and so loud that push us upward in the air coming from below! It was so powerful that all the walls cracked, the false ceiling fell on top of us, the fire sprinkler system got activated and everybody started screaming in horror: 'HELP! HELP! HELP!'
He stated that he used a master key to let people out from behind locked emergency exit doors, saving hundreds of people, and that he turned down Hollywood movie deals worth millions and book contracts "from every publisher" because he "wanted to maintain [his] integrity."
Rodriguez also claimed to have seen hijacker Mohand al-Shehri scoping out the building prior to the attacks, in June 2001. A Daily News article says he told the FBI and the 9/11 Commission that he recognized the man after a brief, chance encounter months prior to the terrorist attacks. "It is believed that American Airlines Flight 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta cased New York City targets, including the Diamond District, but Rodriguez may have given the 9/11 panel the first eyewitness testimony about a hijacker inside one of the towers before the terror strike.
Rodriguez gave evidence to the 9/11 Commission. As was the case with the vast majority of the more than 1200 witnesses who gave evidence to the Commission, Rodriguez's evidence was not given in public and was not specifically itemized in the Commission Report. Of the 1200+ witnesses whose testimony was taken by the Commission, approximately 160 were conducted publicly. Rodriguez complains that his testimony never appeared in the Commission Report and that many of the survivors were not called to testify. However, the Commission acknowledges that its report is only a summary of the work that it did, and that it specifically cites only a fraction of the sources it consulted. It acknowledges that due to the scope of the events touching so many issues and organizations, it did not interview every knowledgeable person or find every relevant piece of paper, but that its report is a foundation for a better understanding of a landmark in the history of the United States.
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Do you believe there were secondary explosions in the WTC?
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