COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— 21 years ago, terrorists carried out the 9/11 attacks that left thousands dead. Those who survived the attacks carry the memories of the tragedy with them.

Eyewitness News reporter Sydney Kostus sat down with one of those survivors who shared his story for the first time.

72-year-old John Pianoforte is a volunteer with the Feeding Families Ministry Food Pantry, an act of giving back he felt compelled to do.

On September 11, 2001, Pianoforte was working at the World Trade Center when the deadliest terrorist attack in American history took place. More than two decades later, he’s sharing his story.

“It changes you. Believe me, it changes you,” Pianoforte said. “We thought we were safe there. We had security, we had top security we’d have to go through. We had like a barcoded ID’s to go through, but I always felt safe.”

Pianoforte was a building engineer for 16 years. He was supposed to work on the 96th floor, but after someone called in sick, he ended up working on the 7th floor in the North Tower when it was hit by a hijacked plane.

“All of a sudden I heard this big crash,” Pianoforte said.

He ran out of the building, explaining he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“I looked down, I saw a silhouette of a plane and all of a sudden looked up and saw a jet hit the building, and I was like, ‘wow.’” Pianoforte explained. “We ran, and a few people I picked up and just pushed out of the way because they stumbled, just to get them out of the way of the debris.”

Thinking back to the tragedy, emotions took over as he told the stories of those who lost their lives.

“Her name was Danny, she was a guard. She died,” he paused. “I’m sorry,” Pianoforte said.

“She was on the first floor. She was on the first floor. She was a guard, she could of walked out of that building. She stayed and she helped people and when the building came down she died,” he continued.

The guilt of survival following him since that day, now using it to help others around him.

“I’m there every day, and god spared me. Why? For a while, I felt guilty and it was like remorse and after a while I just realized, it wasn’t my time,” Pianoforte explained.

Pianoforte said he hopes people hearing his story will make connections with the people around them and be grateful for life each and every day.

You can find coverage from Sunday’s commemoration ceremony of 9/11 at this link.