Brooklyn students trapped at center WORLD TRADE CENTER EXPLOSION

SCHOOL TRIP TURNS INTO NIGHTMARE

February 27, 1993|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- By dark, most people were out and the sound of sirens had started to subside. But a class of kindergartners from P.S. 95 in Gravesend, Brooklyn, was still missing, the subject of an agonizing search. They would not be found until after 7 p.m.

Having gone to the World Trade Center as part of an annual school field trip to see the vast expanse of the city from high in the sky, they found themselves, instead, suddenly in the midst of one of those nightmarish moments the city won't soon forget.

When the explosion hit, the class of 17 children and five adults were trapped inside an elevator. Anna Marie Tesoriero, the class teacher, said her group sang Thanksgiving songs and used Bic lighters to break the darkness and keep their spirits up.

"We were trapped from 12:30 to 7:30. A few lights went on in the middle, and we had hope. But then the lights flickered out."

Finally, firefighters knocked a hole through to the elevator and started pulling children to safety one by one. Then the elevator started working, and the rest of the class went to the ground floor -- safe.

Another P.S. 95 group, with 14 children between the ages of 4 and 6, was trapped on the roof for three hours, huddling in the snow, said their teacher, Joanne Newlin. "We huddled together to stay warm, and all I could keep thinking was,'Just get me down. Just get me down.' "

Still another class from P.S. 95 was caught on the 107th-floor observatory when the explosion went off. The children and adults were making their way down the stairwell guided by firefighters holding flashlights.

By 5:30 p.m., they were on the 94th floor. Their teacher, Rosemary Russo, called the school principal from a cellular phone to reassure him that everyone was all right.

"They are singing, and the firemen are joking with the kids to keep them going," said James Filatro, the principal of P.S. 95. "It's going very smoothly."

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