ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando firefighter and paramedic Felix Marquez spent this Sept. 11 reflecting on his survival near Ground Zero on the same day in 2001.
"With that rumble and all that noise, we looked, like, 'What is all that noise?' And we (looked) and saw debris," Marquez said Tuesday.
Marquez was working for the New York Fire Department at the time, and he got sent to the World Trade Center. He said a wrong turn ended up saving his life.
"We ended up in a building directly in front of the World Trade Center where it collapsed," he said. "Good thing I went to the east side, because everyone on the west side perished."
Marquez said after the second tower collapsed, he went searching for cover. The vehicle he was in stopped running because of all of the heavy dust.
He said he found an injured officer, who then helped him inside a building. The group would wait in the building for 20 hours before being found.
"It was so chaotic, initially," Marquez said. "The sound, the screaming, the people, the debris falling. That ball of smoke and debris took over and everything was silent."
Once Marquez was cleared by paramedics, he went back to work. He said he spent weeks at Ground Zero, working side by side with several friends who have since died of cancer.
"I fly every year to New York," Marquez said. "My department actually allows me to use time to go to New York and get my health checked, so they do a full physical."
Last month, News 6 spoke to Marquez after he and several firefighters used their own money to fix a roof. The homeowner said he had a limited income and was trying to repair the damage from Hurricane Irma.
Marquez said he's thankful to watch the city of Orlando honor the victims and survivors of Sept. 11, 2001, 17 years later.
"They truly do this from the bottom of their heart, because they really don't want to forget," Marquez said.
Marquez moved to Florida in 2002 and joined the Orlando Fire Department in 2004.
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