On the morning of September 11th 2001 Pasquale Buzzelli was working on the 64th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. His wife Louise was at home, seven months pregnant with their first child. When the first plane struck, he called her and woke her. His building was on fire. Louise turned on the television and watched in horror as the events of 9/.11 unfolded. Pasquale called her again and told her he was about to evacuate the building, but just minutes later, Louise watched as the North Tower collapsed – with Pasquale still inside. She was sure she had watched her husband, and father of her unborn child, die in front of her eyes…
Pasquale had reached the stairwell on the 22nd floor when the North Tower collapsed. He remembers thinking “this is how I’m going to die” as he fell with the building. Miraculously, he survived the fall and awoke three hours later, perched on a pile of rubble on a concrete slate 4ft by 4ft sticking out over a huge 60 ft drop. Had he missed the pile even by inches, he would have fallen to his death. Eventually, firemen managed to get him down and he was taken to the hospital, where he finally managed to reach Louise, who had spent the whole day with family and friends, thinking she had lost him. Pasquale was one of only 16 people to have survived the collapse of the North Tower and only one of two to have surfed the collapse itself
Although Pasquale escaped virtually unscathed, with just bruising and a fractured foot, the mental scars took a lot longer to heal. In the months after 9/11 Pasquale found it hard to come to terms with what happened – that he had survived and his friends and colleagues had not. He was wracked with survivor’s guilt and post traumatic stress disorder, and, not being able to come to terms with any of it, he grew distant from his wife and newly born baby.
At the same time Louise was experiencing her own PTSD. As joyous as she was that Pasquale had survived, she equally felt pain and sorrow for those whose husbands were not as fortunate. Stories in the press would show widows and babies of men who had died in the attacks, and could not imagine the strength they needed to carry out their pregnancies. As Louise tried desperately to connect both with the widows she almost joined and with the husband she desperately needed, she, wrote A Song for Hope (named after their newborn daughter) and donated the money from the sales of the CD to the foundation shared among the widows and their babies born after 9/11.
“We All Fall Down” is the story of how Pasquale and Louise dealt with the horrific events of 9/11, the PTSD and survivor guilt that followed, and ultimately, their road to recovery. 9/11 will always be with them both and he thinks about it every day. But now, 10 years later, Pasquale has realized that the best way to respect the memory of those who died, he needs to live for his life again. As he said, ”I could not control what had happened to me, but now I can control how I would lead my life. How I would be the father and husband that my family deserved and to help and respect my fellow man as I was taught to do by my father.”