salute the heroes among us.
An Exclusive interview by AC Team with
Police Officer David 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
David Lim with Sirius
Photo courtesy Officer David Lim
AsianConnections Team's Suzanne Kai
Chan, Alex Lock and Mike Kai
You to All Those Who Came to Honor a Fallen Hero
Service for Sirius
Sirius was Officer David Lim's
who perished in the collapse of the
World Trade Center
April 24, 2002 at
(LSP) Liberty Park - New Jersey
Everyone is welcomed.
here for directions and more photos
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.
emotional ceremony included two minutes of silence and the singing
of "God Bless America."
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
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.
following are highlights of the harrowing experience in Officer
Lim's own words, and an exclusive interview with AsianConnections
|NY Port Authority Police Officer
David Lim Photo by special permission to AsianConnections by
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Lim's words in a message to his friends and family:
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
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
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
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
Dave "Out on a" Lim
Lim talks with AsianConnections Team:
It's an honor to talk with you.
I say I'm just doing my job.
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.
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
Team: What did you do when you received the alert that there
was a disaster?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
were some minor injuries relatively speaking, we had some concussions,
some fractured bones, nothing serious. We radioed for help.
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.
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.
Team: You then had to go up rather than down because you could
smell smoke and fire?
Yes. Because of the jet fuel from the plane that had crashed into
Team: What floor were you on when you changed direction and
had to go back up?
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.
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!
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?
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.
Team: So you were waiting 4 to 5 hours after both buildings
had collapsed? How did you manage to survive after both buildings
I don't know. I'm sure somewhere along the line, some structural
engineer will have some kind of theory on how it happened.
Team: What were you clinging on to?
Staircase. What was left of the staircase.
Team: What floor approximately where you on?
Now it's fourth
and fifth floor, and something left of third and second floor. Not
much. We had enough for us.
Team: You and your colleagues were clinging onto a piece of
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.
Team: Who else was with you?
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.
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.
Team: What was it like sitting on that staircase for 4 or 5
hours? Was there intense heat?
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.
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.
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,
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?
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.
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.
was training that got me through this, that, and luck, of course.
Team: I understand that you have a trained explosive detector
Yes, my dog Sirius. Who I unfortunately had to leave behind. My
explosive detector dog was 4-1/2 years old.
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.
Team: We are very honored to talk with you. You are one of our
heroes and one of the fortunate ones to survive.
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.
Team: Thank you again, and I know you are very busy and I hope
you can get some rest now.
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
Japanese internment camps, the Japanese Americans were put away.
It was a bad thing, they were put away even though they were Americans.
it's now [happening to] the poor Arab Americans.
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.
Team: 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.
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.
AC Team articles:
Tan at Ground Zero
in My Heart by Ben Fong-Torres
Essay of New York by photographer/actress Lia Chang