Banker turns preacher after surviving 9/11 attacks

NEW YORK Fri Sep 9, 2011 3:38pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stanley Praimnath still remembers the roar of the engines, the stench of the jet fuel and the thunderous impact in his 81st floor office as United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south World Trade Center tower.

Praimnath walked out of the burning building alive, but the horror has yet to fade, he said.

"Every day of my life for the past 10 years, I've been reliving this incident at least once per day ... and people looking at me would never notice," said Praimnath, a banker in Connecticut with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Praimnath said he was a devout Christian before 9/11 but became a Pentecostal pastor afterward and has become a popular inspirational speaker with religious groups and churches.

Like many survivors, he still remembers the sounds of people dying. "Every night before I go bed, I'm hearing the cries of this one individual lying on the floor and this man is crying, 'Please, tell my wife and my baby that I love them. I just got married,'" Praimnath said.

"He had a massive head injury and he was lying on the ground and a security guard stood by and held onto this man with his life. They both perished. I can still hear his cries in my head," Praimnath said.

The World Trade Center's twin towers fell after being struck by airliners hijacked by 19 al Qaeda militants.

Dianne DeFontes, a receptionist who worked on the 89th floor of the north tower, also walked out of the World Trade Center alive. She said she has not worked since 2003 because of the emotional and physical toll of the ordeal.

"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about it," DeFontes said. "It's certain things, like being on the stairs and going past the firemen and seeing their beautiful faces and eyes as they headed into danger and later thinking that they were probably in the building when it collapsed."

"I don't think the people who planned this are ever going to give up," DeFontes said. "I hate taking the subway. I'm fearful that it can happen again. This is something I will have to live with to my dying day."

(Editing by Mark Egan and Will Dunham)

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