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We salute the heroes among us.
An Exclusive interview by AC Team with

Police Officer David Lim

Lim evacuated many at the World Trade Center and
was one of the survivors rescued.
He rang the starting bell to re-open the New York Stock Exchange

Officer David Lim with Sirius
Photo courtesy Officer David Lim

By AsianConnections Team's Suzanne Kai
Joyce Chan, Alex Lock and Mike Kai

Thank You to All Those Who Came to Honor a Fallen Hero

Memorial Service for Sirius

Sirius was Officer David Lim's
canine partner
who perished in the collapse of the
World Trade Center

11am April 24, 2002 at
(LSP) Liberty Park - New Jersey
Everyone is welcomed.

Click here for directions and more photos

September 17, 2001 - New York City

Related AC Team articles:
Amy Tan at Ground Zero
Raining in My Heart by Ben Fong-Torres

Photos of NY by photographer/actress Lia Chang

Wall Street got back in business as Police Officer David Lim rang the opening bell with fellow police, fire fighters and health rescue workers at the New York Stock Exchange where trading resumed for the first time following last week's terrorist attacks.

The emotional ceremony included two minutes of silence and the singing of "God Bless America."

Lim, a 21-1/2 year police veteran was invited to re-open the stock exchange by New York's Governor George Pataki. Lim is a police officer with the canine unit trained for bomb searches assigned to the World Trade Center.

Affectionately nicknamed for years by his colleagues as "Dave out-on-a Lim," Lim, 45, was one the first Port Authority officers on the scene to respond to reports of an explosion.

The following are highlights of the harrowing experience in Officer Lim's own words, and an exclusive interview with AsianConnections Team.

NY Port Authority Police Officer David Lim Photo by special permission to AsianConnections by Newsday/Dick Yarwood

Lim left his explosive detector dog, Sirius, in his kennel, since an explosion had already occurred. He ran up the stairs first to the 27th floor, and later up to the 44th floor to evacuate people.

While helping numerous people to safety, and to conserve his energy, Lim kept shouting three words, "Down is good!," to everyone he could find in the building.

Lim, six firefighters, and a civilian were rescued approximately five hours after the first terrorist attack. After both towers had collapsed into rubble, Lim and seven others were able to find refuge by sitting on unstable sections of a staircase left standing approximately 5 stories high in the air.

AsianConnections Team Suzanne Kai and Joyce Chan with Lim's Uncle Alex Lock of San Francisco spoke with Officer Lim just hours after he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Lim had returned from visiting his colleagues in the hospital.

In his humble words he thanked his superiors, citing Sergeant McLaughlin, who had also survived the tragedy, for training him in emergency services which he said helped him and his colleagues to survive. He also thanked the "fantastic" medics, and firefighters from Rescue Company 43 for saving his life.

Officer David Lim's words in a message to his friends and family:

Dear Friends,

I'm not very articulate, so bear with me.

It was 0845hrs when the first plane struck the North Tower. I locked Sirius in his kennel and proceeded to the Plaza of #1 WTC to assist in evacuation.

I noted a body that had either jumped or was thrown out a higher floor. I had never seen anything like this in my life. While calling in the DOA, another body landed 50 feet from the first. I was advised of multiple aideds on the upper floors andproceeded up the "B" staircase.

I stopped on the 27th floor to assist & sat with members of the NYFD to rest before we continued. They were wearing full bunker gear and hauling a lot of equipment.

I called my wife Diane & told her I was alright. I made it to the 44th floor sky lobby and while I directed people to the stairway, I saw the 2nd plane struck the South Tower. I was knocked off my feet by the concussion.

I quickly gathered the remaining people and firemen and headed back down the stairs. On the way, we encountered some elderly and physically challenged persons. The firemen began dropping their equipment and carrying them down.

On the 21st floor I saw 3 other officers and was advised of the collapse of the South Tower.

We assisted another aided and kept moving down. On the 5th floor I found a Battalion Chief trying to help an injured woman.

I stopped to help and we got to the 4th floor when the North Tower collapsed on top of us.

Myself, 6 firemen from Ladder 6 and Josephine survived only suffering minor injuries.

We gathered our radio's and began signaling "Maydays & 10-13's." I called my wife on my cell phone and passed the phone to the others to call their families.

I made a friend in "Mikey" keeping him awake (concussion). We were rescued by Rescue 43 @ 1430hrs, but still had to traverse the debris mountains to get out. Small fires, exploding ammo (US Customs armory), electrical wires and gaping holes hindered our escape.

After finally getting out, we looked backed and realized how lucky we really were. The scene was both surreal and horrific.

I have been a Police Officer for almost 22 years and have never seen such devastation. This made WTC/1993 look like a firecracker in comparison. I grieve for those friends that I have lost and those I will never know.

I also grieve for the best partner I ever had. Sirius is still in his kennel waiting for me.

Dave "Out on a" Lim


Officer Lim talks with AsianConnections Team:

AC Team: It's an honor to talk with you.

Officer Lim: I say I'm just doing my job.

AC Team: You're very modest. You are one of our country's heroes. We are so very proud of your efforts to save lives. We saw you ring the opening bell this morning in the ceremony to open the stock exchange on Wall Street.

Officer Lim: I really didn't expect all this attention. I just wanted to get the word out to other people that there could be other people down there.

AC Team: What did you do when you received the alert that there was a disaster?

Officer Lim: It was 8:45am as I recall now, when the first plane hit the building, I got a call that there was an explosion in the upper part of building number one, and all units to respond. Now, my responsibilities at the World Trade Center are that I have an explosive detector dog, which means that for explosives we are trained to check for bombs. In this particular incident I would not need my dog because there was already an explosion so I left him in the kennel, which is my part of my sad story, of course.

Then I responded, in the Plaza area [first], which is one of the main areas of building number one, and I started to evacuate people out of the building. I ran into the building and out of the Plaza, and this time, someone tells me there's a body out on the Plaza, and I looked out there and sure enough there's a DOA right out on the middle of the Plaza actually right close to the stage, and I called that in.

At that point that's the most important job I've had and all of a sudden another body falls down. And I said, "Oh my God, there's got to be other things going on upstairs," so I run to the staircase to see if people upstairs are really hurt. I ran up the stairs and I got to the 27th floor.

I stopped to help a person in a motorized wheelchair, and as soon as I got to him, the fire department came up and I told them, and they said they would get him out of his chair and carry him down. They had to rest first because they also had to run up 27 flights.

We break into an office to bring him more fresh air which was better than the hallway. While I was in the office I grabbed the phone and I called my wife, and I told her I'd be alright and I was going up further to find more people. She said to be careful, and I said, "OK," and that was the last thing we said to each other.

I get up to the 44th floor eventually, and we are getting the people down the staircase and making sure people are not going down the express elevators. The 44th floor is a sky lobby.

If you are looking at the building, especially at the second plane hitting…the angle, in one of the pictures you'll see it, you'll know what I mean, you see two bands that go around the building. One for the 44th sky lobby, and one for the 78th sky lobby.

I'm on the 44th floor of building number one, the first building that's hit. I turn around, and the second plane hits the second building.

All of a sudden a fireball comes towards my window. It blows out the window and knocks us on our butt. I'm with a couple of firemen and two other people.

So we get up and run down the staircase and get to the 21st floor and pick up some more people that are hurt. They are making a make-shift stretcher and I say there's no time for that.

I say, "Let's go, let's go, let's go!" So everybody starts going down, and we get down to the fifth floor and there's this other woman that's hurt and I stop to help her, and we get down to the fourth floor and the building falls down on us.

At this point, of course, I feel like I'm going to die. It's like an avalanche of rocks coming down on us. We covered up the best we could. And then when everything stopped, we assessed our position.

There were some minor injuries relatively speaking, we had some concussions, some fractured bones, nothing serious. We radioed for help.

Then we started smelling smoke and fire. I said, "Whoa." It smelled like jet fuel. I worked at the JFK airport for a few years and I know what jet fuel is. So now we got to start going up.

We don't know what is up, but we have to go up because going down is bad now. So, with the fire chief that's with me, six firemen and a civilian, [we] move further up, the staircase was a little unstable, [but] we didn't have a choice.

AC Team: You then had to go up rather than down because you could smell smoke and fire?

Officer Lim: Yes. Because of the jet fuel from the plane that had crashed into the building.

AC Team: What floor were you on when you changed direction and had to go back up?

Officer Lim: Fourth floor. That's where I was when the building fell. Now after the building fell, we are sitting there calling for help, we realized that is not a good place to be. We had to start looking for something upstairs.

We go up and then when we get to the sixth floor we noticed, "What the heck is that?" It looks like a spotlight. It's the sun. We're now staying on what is now the top of the World Trade Center, on the sixth floor!

I said, "Whoa!," if we're a minute slower, or a minute faster, you and I are not having this conversation, you know what I mean?

AC Team: Yes.

Officer Lim: Then we now got to wait until the rescuers come. They finally came after 4 or 5 hours. And now even then, once they come, they threw us ropes. And we had to climb down, and they sent two guys back up to us to sit with the injured female, Josephine Harris.

AC Team: So you were waiting 4 to 5 hours after both buildings had collapsed? How did you manage to survive after both buildings collapse?

Officer Lim: Divine intervention, I don't know. I'm sure somewhere along the line, some structural engineer will have some kind of theory on how it happened.

AC Team: What were you clinging on to?

Officer Lim: Staircase. What was left of the staircase.

AC Team: What floor approximately where you on?

Officer Lim: Now it's fourth and fifth floor, and something left of third and second floor. Not much. We had enough for us.

AC Team: You and your colleagues were clinging onto a piece of the staircase?

Officer Lim: We were sitting on them, we're not hanging from them like in a movie. We were sitting on them, very gently of course. It was harrowing to say the least. But I won't make this any bigger than it is. We're just on the staircase.

AC Team: Who else was with you?

Officer Lim: Six firefighters from Ladder Company 6 New York, and Josephine Harris, a civilian. Finally the rescuers come, we give them our position and they still have a hard time getting to us but they find us eventually. They throw us ropes. We climb down, then we have to cross the debris field. [where there were] small fires, exploding ammo (US Customs armory), electrical wires and gaping holes.

We tried to get out one way, and there's fire and you can't get through. That was the way they came in, and we had to double back and make it through this crater that's there now and up the other side and we eventually got out.

AC Team: What was it like sitting on that staircase for 4 or 5 hours? Was there intense heat?

Officer Lim: No, there wasn't that much intense heat [where we were but we were covered with debris]. The only reason I know it was 4 or 5 hours is because someone told me. We were not looking at our watches, we were kind of all in shock, you know.

We had one guy who had a concussion, Mike. We kept him awake, which is protocol when someone has a concussion. Other than that we had some small conversations on how we were going to get out of there in case rescuers couldn't find us.

I got my cell phone to work. I called my wife. Then I gave my phone to the firemen so they could call their families, just in case, God forbid.

AC Team: In your particular job as a police officer at the World Trade Center, you were very well prepared for disaster. Did you ever imagine something like this would happen?

Officer Lim: The scene was both surreal and horrific. I have been a police officer for almost 22 years and have never seen such devastation. This made WTC/1993 look like a firecracker in comparison.

The reason I am prepared for stuff like this, I have very good training from Sergeant McLaughlin. He was one of the guys that helped to train me in this emergency type stuff. He's in the hospital right now unfortunately and going into major surgery tomorrow. He was also trapped and they got him out.

It was training that got me through this, that, and luck, of course.

AC Team: I understand that you have a trained explosive detector dog?

Officer Lim: Yes, my dog Sirius. Who I unfortunately had to leave behind. My explosive detector dog was 4-1/2 years old.

AC Team: Has the dog been found?

Officer Lim: No, I don't expect him to be found. I understand, I don't want anyone looking for him, but just want to say that while they are searching [for victims], if they find a dog, that's my dog. Of course, he's a dog, and I have to put it all into perspective and I do now, but it still doesn't make me feel any better.

AC Team: We are very honored to talk with you. You are one of our heroes and one of the fortunate ones to survive.

Officer Lim: That's the wild part of it. I'm fairly whole. Outside of bumps, bruises, a mild concussion, my back, other than that, I'm relatively whole. That's part of the miracle.

AC Team: Thank you again, and I know you are very busy and I hope you can get some rest now.

Officer Lim: Rest will be later. This is my part, to help the cause. Try to keep morale up. I'm visiting my colleagues and friends in the hospital. Also, if I can help the Asian community in any way, obviously I'm going to [help].

Like Japanese internment camps, the Japanese Americans were put away. It was a bad thing, they were put away even though they were Americans.

Ironically, it's now [happening to] the poor Arab Americans.

My first logic, is if I am in a fortunate position to help people, and if I can help reflect that as a positive image for the Asian community I will do the best I can.

AC Team: Thank you.

Officer Lim: Thank you.

Officer Lim is resting comfortably at home and is spending time visiting his many friends and colleagues recuperating in the hospitals. He resides in the New York area with his wife Diane, and two children.

AsianConnections thanks its team members for this exclusive interview including Suzanne Kai, Joyce Chan, Mike Kai, and Officer Lim's Uncle, Alex Lock of San Francisco. Special thanks to Newsday and photographer Dick Yarwood for extending permission to AsianConnections to reprint David Lim's photo.

Related AC Team articles:
Amy Tan at Ground Zero
Raining in My Heart by Ben Fong-Torres
Photo Essay of New York by photographer/actress Lia Chang

























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