Lt. Robert Nagel, 58, hated commercial TV. His wife said he wouldn’t watch any channel below 13 (which is PBS in NYC). He loved the History Channel, old black and white movies, and almost any kind of science fiction. There were hundreds of sci-fi books around the Manhattan home he shared with this wife and daughter. Nagel had 28 years on the FDNY. He was the only member of Engine 58 to die at the WTC, and the 84th and last member of Division 3 to be listed in these posts.
Here is the story written about Lt. Robert Nagel told in “WTC: In Their Own Words” by Firehouse Magazine. In it, FF John Wilson of Engine 58 recounts the following:
Nagel survived the collapse of the South Tower as did the seven other members of E58. But Nagel was trapped under and behind a wall of debris in the Tall Ships bar on the ground floor of the Marriott hotel on the SW corner of the South Tower. Although he was out of sight, they were talking to him and managed to pass him water through the debris which consisted of aluminum studs and BMX cable. He asked where the men were and were they all safe. He “seemed annoyed that he was stuck and couldn’t do anything.” They got a Sawzall to cut through the debris to rescue him. They had tied off a rope to a column and passed it through to Nagel. Then they heard another rumble. It was the North Tower coming down. After several minutes, when it was over, they “found the rope ended at the wall of debris…. it just ended… We followed the rope from the pillar to where it was originally placed. Now there was another 20-30 feet of debris” between them and where Nagel had been. The men of Engine 58 worked until 9pm and began again at that spot the next morning. “Finally one day we were digging and removed all the debris and hit the floor. The floor just ended. The concrete was cracked off. Nagel was gone. He could have been 10 levels down. That was a bad day. We never found him.”
These are terrible stories, I know. And I believe it’s also terrible that we only have these stories about a small number of all those lost that day. These stories depend on survivors to tell them. I am grateful for those survivors, and send blessings along to them for the work they did and the burdens they bear.