.- Will Jimeno, whose story of survival in the 9/11 attacks is retold in the new Oliver Stone movie “World Trade Center,” said this week his Catholic faith and an unexpected vision kept him alive during the long hours in which he was trapped under the rubble of the twin towers.
“What kept me going was the faith in God that my mother instilled in me as a Catholic. And, as the last Pope (John Paul II) said, we Hispanics have very great faith,” Jimeno told the EFE news agency in one of dozens of interviews he has granted.
“World Trade Center” recounts the story of Jimeno and John McLoughlin, two New York police officers who ran into the second tower to help rescue people. When the tower collapsed, all of their fellow officers were crushed to death. Jimeno and McLoughlin managed to survive 12 hours under the rubble, unable to see one another but at least able to communicate. Only 20 people were pulled from the rubble, alive - Jimeno was number 18 and McLoughlin number 19.
“When we got to the twin towers and I saw people jumping out, I felt like my hands were tied, and that’s the worse thing that can happen to a police officer. We really wanted to help as many people as possible,” Jimeno said.
During the hours in which they remained trapped under the rubble, wondering if they would die, they relied on memories of their families and their faith to stay alive. Jimeno thought about his daughter and his wife who was seven-months pregnant at the time.
In one scene of the movie, Jimeno has a vision of Jesus who offers him a bottle of water. In an interview with Univision, he confirmed the veracity of the account.
“In the majority of interviews I have with Hispanics, they always ask me about that. But I am Catholic, my mother Emma taught me my faith and my dad, William, hard work. And the faith my mother gave me, that night I needed it, because at that moment the two buildings fell, I was burned and the revolver (of his companion) went off. I was ready to die, I made my peace with God. But God gave me the will and strength to keep fighting, because if I had not seen Jesus, I think I would be dead,” he stated.
Jimeno came to the United States from Colombia when he was two years old and says he has wanted to be a police officer since he was a young boy. He graduated from the police academy in January of 2001. Jimeno says he never imagined he would experience a tragedy like 9/11.
“For me this story belongs to us all. Not to me or to John (McLoughlin), but to all the heroes who died with us, those who came to save us, and our wives,” he added.
Now, he said, “my family is everything for me. I take my daughters to school and I take part in as many activities as possible. My family is number one. My daughters are beautiful and have so much energy. I thank God I have them every day.”