September 11, 2001 began like any other day for Joanne & # 39; Jojo & # 39; Capestro. Despite not feeling well, he went to work in his office on the 87th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Not long after arriving, Capestro, who was then 39 years old, planned to go down with a co-worker, but stopped because the telephone on his desk rang. While on the call, the hijacked American Airlines plane crashed into the North Tower, six stories above Capestro's office for the May Davis Group, where she was an assistant secretary.
After finding the only available stairway exit, Capestro ran down the 87 flights of stairs, part of the way in high heels, before running out of the North Tower all in 22 minutes. Moments later, the tower collapsed.
Covered in toxic dust and debris from the scene, Capestro was captured in a photo taken by acclaimed photographer Phil Penman, who grabbed his camera and ran to the scene when he discovered that an airplane hit the North Tower.
He spent much of the day taking photographs of those who survived the terrorist attacks along with heart-rending photos of rescue workers and civilians who helped the thousands of people affected. Penman finally donated the photo he captured of Capestro along with others to be displayed inside the National Memorial and Museum on September 11.
To her surprise, the staff immediately recognized Capestro in her image and joined Penman with her three years ago.
Six weeks ago, at his request, he was the photographer at his wedding on August 11.
Speaking to DailyMail.com about his life-changing experience that occurred 17 years ago, Capestro said: "Phil and I were in contact all these years, six weeks ago he was the photographer at my wedding, Phil was with me the best day of my life and the worst day of my life. "
Joanne & # 39; Jojo & # 39; Capestro escaped from the 87th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 before fleeing to the rubble and dust-covered streets of lower Manhattan with a co-worker. She was captured in the image above on the left by photographer Phil Penman who took dozens of exciting and moving images of the scene around the Twin Towers.
Three years ago, Penman and Capestro met and stayed in contact and six weeks ago she worked as a photographer at the wedding of her dreams with her husband, Robert Vasquez (pictured, on the right). Speaking to DailyMail.com, Capestro said: "Phil was with me on the best day of my life and the worst day of my life." It is represented in the upper left corner with Penman on his wedding day, on August 11.
The terrorist attacks of September 11 left 2,996 people dead and more than 6,000 injured in the United States. The fateful day has been known as the worst domestic attack that America has ever experienced.
Capestro, who visits the monument in Lower Manhattan every year to recognize those who died, including his co-worker Harry Ramos, explained with vivid details how he survived.
"That was a normal day for me, when I got up in the morning I did not feel well, but I still went to work," said Capestro. "And I was standing at my desk with one of my coworkers because we were going to get off, but the phone rang and he answered, then the plane hit five or six floors above us.
"The impact was so strong and the building trembled until it suddenly stopped."
She said that she and her colleagues realized that two of the three staircase exits were inaccessible because they were damaged by the accident and "melted."
Capestro explained that September 11, 2001 began like any other day for her. He felt bad, but still decided to go to work from his home in Brooklyn. Then, at age 39, Capestro worked on the 87th floor of the North Tower as an assistant sales secretary for the financial firm May Davis Group. He explained that the first plane crashed in his tower about six floors above his office. The image above is an image that Penman captured of the Twin Towers moments after the two hijacked planes hit both buildings
Capestro said it took him exactly 22 minutes to escape from the North Tower, where he went down the 87 flights of stairs. The image above is an image that shows people crowding the streets of lower Manhattan as they watch the scene unfold
Minutes after escaping to the street, the North Tower collapsed completely, recalled Capestro. He explained that those who could escape ran for their lives. The image above is a captivating image captured by Penman showing the North Tower as it collapses and the South Tower still in flames
The terrorist attacks of September 11 left 2,996 people dead and more than 6,000 injured in the United States. The fateful day has been known as the worst domestic attack that America has ever experienced. In the image above there are people covered in dust and debris fleeing the horrible scene of lower Manhattan in an image captured by Penman
They ran to a third staircase that was completely empty at this time.
"The third exit we never really used so we were lucky to find that exit, we could not leave the 87th floor until the second plane entered the other building," he recalled.
"I remember it was yesterday to be honest with you, you know, we had to make facial masks, then we proceeded down the steps and I have to be honest with you, there was no one coming from above to go.
"I thought everyone should have left because I thought it would be full of people, when they did not have the opportunity to leave."
Capestro added that once they reached the 64th floor, he began to notice that more people were crowding the stairs to escape.
People joined immediately to support and comfort each other through traumatic attacks in the country. In the photo, a man comforts a woman sitting at the height of an emergency vehicle and in the photo, a man dressed in a suit covers his face as he walks among the piles of dust and debris from the collapsed towers.
Three emergency workers walk through the street covered in dust and debris in the above image captured by Penman near the scene of the collapsed Twin Towers and not far from the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge in lower Manhattan
A woman is photographed above, escorted by a police officer away from Ground Zero in another striking image captured by Penman, who had worked several hours earlier that morning taking pictures of celebrities leaving the Thompson Hotel in Soho.
The above image captured by Penman shows several people walking away from Ground Zero while they were covered in debris and dust from the collapsed Twin Towers.
In 22 minutes, Capestro moved a few steps away from the North Tower when it began to collapse and began to run and shout "God help me".
At some point, while trying to escape the horrible scene, Penny unknowingly caught Capestro in a photo with one of her co-workers covered in dust and debris.
In the captivating image, Capestro looks completely shocked as he looks at the camera lens while walking barefoot and holds the heels and bag with one hand.
She explained that she did not remember Penman at the scene and that she did not know that she had taken that photo until three years ago when the staff of the Museum and National Memorial of September 11 related her to the photographer.
Three men walk in front of the entrance to a subway station that has a poster announcing the launch on September 21 of Denzel Washington's hit movie, Training Day.
The heartbreaking image captured by Penman shows emergency personnel and civilians working together to help the wounded near Ground Zero
"When we met, he came into my office and looked at me, I looked at him and I started crying," Capestro said of the time he first met Penman.
That's how it all started and we kept in touch during all these years. Now here we are today and six weeks ago, on August 11, he was the photographer at my wedding.
"He was with me for the best day of my life and the worst day of my life."
He added that it was an "incredible experience" to have him present when he married the love of his life, Robert Vásquez.