Auburn business owner and 9/11 survivor honors first responders - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Auburn business owner and 9/11 survivor honors first responders

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) -

9/11 survivor and Auburn Philly Connection owner, Sanel Merchant, still has nightmares about that frightful day 13 years ago.

He was working on the 49th floor of the North Tower and vividly remembers when the first commercial airplane hit the building.

"What was the most helpless moment in my life because I had nothing in my control, there was nothing I could do to stop it," explains Merchant.

Merchant escaped by taking the main staircase with hundreds of other people.

When he made it down the first 20 flights, he saw a firefighter running the opposite way.

That is when he says his perspective in life changed.

"That was superhuman. He has a smile on his face, his words were so comforting, but when I saw his eyes it was like he knew he wasn't going to come back down, yet he kept on smiling," says Merchant.

Once Merchant reached the bottom, another first responder told him to keep their backs to the windows to shield them from seeing what was falling from above.

"While they were running toward the building, I was running away from it and these people are real flesh and blood and if these people are not super heroes than who is," explains Merchant.

Even though our hearts are heavy remembering 9/11, Merchant wanted to take a positive approach.

Since he opened Philly Connection in 2005, every year on this day he thanks his super heroes for their service with a free meal.

"I feel like the happiest man," says Merchant, "when all my super heroes come into my store and I get a chance to shake their hands for all of the work they do day in and day out."

Copyright 2014 WTVM. All rights reserved. 

  • LocalMore>>

  • How the government shutdown may impact Fort Benning

    How the government shutdown may impact Fort Benning

    Saturday, January 20 2018 11:31 AM EST2018-01-20 16:31:29 GMT
    (Source: WTVM)(Source: WTVM)

    With Fort Benning operating directly under the federal government, many people wonder how this latest shutdown will impact the Valley.

    More >>

    With Fort Benning operating directly under the federal government, many people wonder how this latest shutdown will impact the Valley.

    More >>
  • UPDATE: Fire reported on Cusseta Road

    UPDATE: Fire reported on Cusseta Road

    Saturday, January 20 2018 1:50 PM EST2018-01-20 18:50:10 GMT
    (Source: WTVM)(Source: WTVM)

    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A fire has been reported on Cusseta Road in Columbus. The fire was reported around 1 p.m. Saturday at Victory Park Trailer Homes.  This is a developing story, please check back with News Leader 9 for more updates.  Copyright 2018 WTVM. All rights reserved. | For more news, download the WTVM app here.

    More >>

    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A fire has been reported on Cusseta Road in Columbus. The fire was reported around 1 p.m. Saturday at Victory Park Trailer Homes.  This is a developing story, please check back with News Leader 9 for more updates.  Copyright 2018 WTVM. All rights reserved. | For more news, download the WTVM app here.

    More >>
  • HAPPENING NOW: Local organizations giving away 1000 boxes of food

    HAPPENING NOW: Local organizations giving away 1000 boxes of food

    Saturday, January 20 2018 12:29 PM EST2018-01-20 17:29:31 GMT
    (Source: Bryan Hopkins)(Source: Bryan Hopkins)

    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Two local organizations came together to give out 1000 boxes of food to the community of Columbus. Feeding the Valley and the Mission Continues banded together Saturday to give away 1000 boxes of food on Saturday. The event started at 12 p.m. and will continue until 4 p.m. The giveaway is at the intersection of Ft. Benning Road and Victory Dr. parking lot of Ace Furniture. Copyright 2018 WTVM. All rights reserved. | For more news, downloa...

    More >>

    COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Two local organizations came together to give out 1000 boxes of food to the community of Columbus. Feeding the Valley and the Mission Continues banded together Saturday to give away 1000 boxes of food on Saturday. The event started at 12 p.m. and will continue until 4 p.m. The giveaway is at the intersection of Ft. Benning Road and Victory Dr. parking lot of Ace Furniture. Copyright 2018 WTVM. All rights reserved. | For more news, downloa...

    More >>
Powered by Frankly