HAWLEY, Pa. — Bob Essex worked for the NYC Port Authority as a police officer for 20 years.
Before moving to the Hawley area in 2004, Bob and his family lived on Staten Island, New York, and he commuted into Manhattan to work his post at the World Trade Center.
On September 11, 2001, Bob was off duty and had just dropped his kids off at school when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
Like many first responders, Bob's instincts kicked in to go help, so he put his uniform on and rushed into the city.
"And I was in the police station, putting on a Scott air pack to go upstairs, and lights went out. Building shook like crazy. When we got out to the street, was when we were told that an entire tower had collapsed. That was also when we realized that the building we just came out of was fully engulfed in fire, and Tower 2 had come down. Someone had a satellite phone. I called my wife's number. I left a message for her that tower two came down. I'm okay. I'm going into Tower 1," said Essex.
Bob and some of the other officers were evacuating people from Tower 1 and had just gotten out onto the street when it started to collapse.
They started to run and made it into a nearby building as all the rubble came crashing down. Bob says hours went by before they were able to make it out safely.
At the time, he was one of 50 Port Authority officers missing - he made it out alive, 37 of his colleagues didn't.
For the next eight months, Bob spent hours every day digging through the debris, searching for any of the nearly 3,000 people unaccounted for.
Bob says, despite all this time passing, that day still feels like yesterday.
"There's days when I'm just right back there. There's times when I'll wake up, and the scent of the air is just right there. It's indistinguishable. It's just. It's right there. We lost 37 cops from the Port Authority. Many of them were close friends of mine. It's still, you know, could see their faces, you know," said Essex.
Bob suffers physically and mentally from September 11th but considers himself lucky to be alive every day.