After a taxi driver tipped him off to the unfolding disaster at the World Trade Center, photojournalist William Biggart grabbed three cameras--two film, one digital--and raced downtown. Following firefighters, he posted himself near the burning South Tower. When the building collapsed he ran, but was swallowed by the resulting dust cloud. When he emerged, he documented others who had suffered the same fate, and were choking and clearing their lungs of the pulverized building. According to a dedicated website, soon after the collapse he spoke to his wife on his cell phone and told her he was safe. “I’m with the firemen,” he said.
He returned again to the heart of the disaster, and stood below the North Tower and pointed his camera up at the single standing twin tower. About 29 minutes after the first tower fell, the second followed, this time taking Biggart’s life. He was the only professional photographer to die on 9/11.
Four days later he was recovered along with his cameras, film intact, and press passes. Film later developed from his camera revealed the story of that morning, and the former war photographer who rushed toward danger to capture this tragedy. Some of these images are now on view in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Today a white rose placed in his name on the 9/11 Memorial marks his 69th birthday.
By Jenny Pachucki, 9/11 Memorial Content Strategist