Woman seen in iconic 9/11 photo gets the same photographer to shoot her wedding 17 years later
9/11 survivor Joanne Capestro was photographed by Phil Penman as she escaped the attack and he later donated the picture to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
September 11, 2001, started out like any other day for Joanne ‘Jojo’ Capestro but soon turned into a nightmare she can never forget. Joanne was 39 years old at the time and was working in her office on the 87th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower moments before the attack took place.
Joanne was planning on going downstairs with her colleague but a phone call interrupted their plans. While she was on the call, the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower only six floors above Joanne's office where she worked as an assistant secretary. She was able to locate the only available staircase exit and rushed down 87 flights of stairs while in high heels.
The Photo of Joanne ‘Jojo’ Capestro— Rob Sparrow ❌ (@RobSparrow3) September 11, 2018
Photo Credit is Phil Penman who also photographed her wedding years later. pic.twitter.com/YTAvGncXFK
She made it out within 22 minutes and the tower collapsed just moments later. She was covered in toxic dust and debris when she walked out and was photographed by Phil Penman who had grabbed his camera and rushed to the scene. Penman spent the day taking pictures of survivors as well as pictures of rescue workers and civilians helping all those who were affected.
He eventually donated his picture of Joanne to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Much to his astonishment, the staff there recognized Joanne and united Penman and her around three years ago.
Six weeks ago, Penman became the photographer at Joanne's wedding. As reported by DailyMail, Joanne shared, "Phil and I stayed in touch all of these years. Six weeks ago, he was the photographer at my wedding. Phil was with me on the best day of my life and the worst day of my life".
The horrific 9/11 attacks left an estimated 2,996 people dead and more than 6,000 others injured. Joanne shared that every year she visits the memorial located in lower Manhattan to recognize all those who lost their lives including her coworker Harry Ramos.
"That was a regular day for me when I woke up in the morning I didn’t feel well, but I still went to work. And I was standing at my desk with one of my co-workers because we were going to go downstairs. But the phone rang and he answered, then the plane hit five or six floors above us," Joanne recalled.
"The impact was so strong and the building was shaking until all of a sudden it stopped," she continued. She explained how two out of three stairwell exits were blocked and damaged as a result of the crash. They proceeded to rush to a third stairwell exit which was completely empty. "The third exit we never really used so we were lucky to even find that exit. We didn’t get to exit off the 87th floor until the second plane went into the other building," she added.
"I remember it was like it was yesterday, to be honest with you. You know, we had to make face masks. Then we proceeded to go down the steps and I have to be honest with you, there was nobody coming from upstairs to go. I thought that everybody must have left already from above because I thought it was going to be crowded when they didn’t have a chance to make it out," she recalled.
She shared that it was only until they reached the 64th floor that other people began to use the stairwell to escape. Once Capestro made it out of the tower, the building began to collapse and she started running and screaming "God help me". During some point when she was trying to escape the scene, she was unknowingly captured on camera along with one of her co-workers.
In the iconic picture, Capestro looks absolutely shell-shocked as she faces the camera, heels and purse in hand. Joanne revealed that she did not remember Penman from the scene and did not know that he took the photo until three years ago when they were connected by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. "When we met, he came into my office and just looked at me and I looked at him and just started crying," Capestro shared referring to the first moment that they met.
"That’s how it all started and we stayed in touch for all of these years. Now here we are today and six weeks ago, on August 11th, he was the photographer at my wedding," she continued. "He was with me for the best day of my life and the worst day of my life," she added.