Stanley Praimnath is a survivor of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. He worked as an executive for Fuji Bank on the 81st floor of the South Tower (WTC 2), the second tower attacked that day. He was one of only fourteen survivors from the South Tower above the impact zone where the plane hit.
When American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower, Praimnath started to evacuate from his 81st floor office in the South Tower, but he returned when the building's security guards told everyone the South Tower was secure, and they should return to their office. He did not realize, at that point, that a plane had struck the North Tower. Soon after reentering his office, he saw United Airlines Flight 175 heading directly towards him. Right before impact, he dove under his desk and exclaimed, "Lord, I can't do this! You take over!" The left wing sliced through his office and became lodged in a door twenty feet from him. Praimnath was bruised and covered in debris after the crash which left him stuck and unable to escape on his own.
While Praimnath screamed for someone to come help him, Euro Brokers executive Brian Clark from the 84th floor and a group of his coworkers were debating in the stairwell whether to descend through the impact zone using the stairwell, which they had been told was impassable, or to climb to the roof. While Clark listened to his coworkers debating this, his attention shifted when he could hear Praimnath's faint screams for help. Clark made his way to Praimnath by using his flashlight and by following Praimnath's voice. As Clark was on his way to find Praimnath, he quickly turned back towards his coworkers and saw they had decided to climb up the stairs instead of going down. (Consequently, all of Clark's coworkers were killed.)
Once Clark had found Praimnath, he could see there was a wall between them that managed to stay in place after impact. Clark instructed Praimnath that Praimnath's only option was to jump up and climb over the wall, which Praimnath didn't think he was able to do. On Praimnath's first attempt, he didn't make it and instead hit a piece of wood with a nail sticking out of it, piercing his hand in the process. Praimnath tried a couple more times to jump up and finally Clark, on the other side of the wall, was able to get his hands around Praimnath and help him get over the wall.
The two men made their way to the stairwell, which Clark had already been told was blocked further down. However, Clark and Praimnath wanted to see for themselves if the stairs were really impassable. They descended down the stairs, and while there was debris in some spots, the two men were able to get through it and continue down the stairs and out of the building. (They were two of only fourteen survivors from above the impact zone to survive the day from the South Tower.) After the two men made it outside and had walked a couple blocks away from the South Tower, they stopped and looked back at the building they had just exited, and Praimnath said to Clark, "You know, I think that building can come down". Clark was in the midst of replying, "Those are steel structures, there's no way...", when he was cut off by the tower's starting to collapse. The two men had made it out of the tower only moments before it fell.
As the dust cloud from the collapsing South Tower approached them, they ran south and entered 42 Broadway as the wave caught up to them. Inside that lobby they exchanged business cards. Clark made his way home to New Jersey while Praimnath went to the hospital for his injuries. Later on that evening, after midnight, when Praimnath had finally gotten home from the hospital, he excitedly called Clark to speak with him, waking him up in the process, to find out what had happened to him. The two men who had never met before 9/11 remain friends to this day and have appeared on multiple shows and documentaries telling their stories.
In popular culture
- Praimnath's and others' stories were told on the BBC docudrama 9/11: The Twin Towers (2006, a.k.a. Inside the Twin Towers).
- His story is also chronicled on the documentary United by 9/11 (2006). The dramatization shows Praimnath as having an office near the center, but in reality he had a southwest office.
- Michael Okwu (September 9, 2002). "An improbable escape: Two men defy odds and find a way out of the WTC". CNN. Retrieved August 5, 2007.