Former Warrnambool man Paul Atkinson had been encouraged to go and visit the World Trade Centre on the day it was targeted in a terrorist attack.
The former Channel 10 cameraman was in New York after filming Lleyton Hewitt's US Open win in 2001.
The night before al-Qaeda militants hijacked four planes, Mr Atkinson had been out for a beer with staff from Channel 7 and Channel 9.
They were also in New York covering the US Open.
"They told me to go down to the Twin Towers in the morning and take a look," Mr Atkinson said. He planned to but after working long days and nights, he instead opted for a sleep-in.
Mr Atkinson, 54, awoke to the sound of what he believed was probably the first plane hitting the World Trade Centre.
"I turned on the TV and saw what was happening," he said.
Mr Atkinson grabbed his equipment and went to inform the journalist he was working with - Michelle Stone.
She too was watching the unfolding scenes.
The two first tried to catch a train, but they had come to a halt.
Efforts to flag down a taxi also proved fruitless.
"We ended up walking, which took a fair while," Mr Atkinson said. The two stopped to interview a man who was visibly emotional about what was going on.
He said the second tower fell down in the background while he was filming.
The two witnessed people jumping from the tower and dozens running to safety.
Mr Atkinson's wife was in LA with the couple's then two-year-old son.
However, Mr Atkinson wasn't able to call her.
"All the mobile phone control systems were in the Twin Towers," Mr Atkinson said.
"They were for domestic calls - you couldn't make a call locally but I could make an international call."
Mr Atkinson was able to call his parents in Warrnambool - David and Helen - to assure them he was OK.
They were then able to contact Mr Atkinson's frantic wife in LA.
Mr Atkinson recalls feeling relieved he had not been closer to the Twin Towers at the time, but fearful of what would happen next.
"There was a lot of misinformation," he said.
Mr Atkinson said he distinctly recalled scenes of motorists pulled over with their doors open listening to their radios for updates on the situation.
"There were fighter jets flying low and we were wondering - are these ours or someone else's? There were national guard troops with machine guns and you wonder what will happen next."
Mr Atkinson said he thought about the tragedy each year and the senseless loss of life.
The two were able to get footage to Australia in a matter of hours and were the only network television news crews there - Channel 7 and Channel 9 staff had left on earlier flights.
The two stayed in New York for about a week after the terrorist attacks.
Mr Atkinson said he remembered there were people walking the streets with posters searching for missing people and sadly there were a number of hoax bomb threats called in to nearby motels in the days after the tragedy.
He was among the crowds running down the stairs at one motel after a bomb threat and recalled people were convinced they too were about to be caught up in a senseless terrorist attack.
"I used to think about it a lot and I still think about the personal loss to so many innocent people," he said.
Mr Atkinson, who lives in Canberra, now runs a Jim's Test and Tag franchise.
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