Saturday, May 16, 2009

New York Daily News Photographers David Handschuh & Todd Maisel, plus New York City Firefighter Kevin Shea from Ladder Company 35

The two images, above and below, downloaded off of David Handschuh's personal web site, make up the entirety of his known work at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

(Isn't that an uniformed policeman, turned around and facing the building exit, who is modeling for the escapees a behavior he is encouraging---"Cover your heads!" "Cover your heads with your hands the way I'm doing!" Do you think he might be doing that for the benefit of David's picture? There doesn't seem to be much fallen debris lying about.)

From the digitaljournalist:
"New York Daily News staff photographer David Handschuh was photographing the World Trade Centers while they were under attack. He was badly injured from falling debris. Fortunately, he survived, with some of his pictures being published in the Daily News. In this interview by Susan Markisz and Dirck Halstead, David gives a vivid account of his experience."

The Digital Journalist hosts video interviews with Handschuh and 6 other photographers who worked at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Unfortunately for him, Handschuh gets tripped up in an obvious lie, and with the snow ball effect he takes a couple of other people down with him. The following link to the clips of Handschuh's 18-or-so minutes of interview: (If I've done this right, it should be Realplayer if you click the title, and Quicktime if you click the counter.)

"Smoke was coming from lower Manhattan..." 2:40

"It was eerily quiet..." 2:03

"Not just building parts but body parts..." 3:38

"A voice said 'RUN, RUN, RUN'..." 2:44

"Like being hit by a tornado..."2:30

"The second tower comes down..." 3:37

"Father Mike was a dear friend..." 2:58

Before we begin, I'll cull out for you the actionable lie---when Handschuh, who is out on West Street when the first tower begins to collapse, says,
"Father Mike Judge, the fire department chaplain was probably fifty or sixty feet away from me when he was killed by falling debris."
We know for a certainty that Father Judge was murdered in the lobby of the North Tower---we have it on videotape---then carried north across the plaza---um, again, MSNBC videotape and the famous Stapleton still photographs---then back down to street level to rest in the gutter on Vesey Street. Eventually he was relocated by others to St. Paul's chapel further east on Broadway, for a more dignified, temporary catafalque. Now, read the untruth in its context:

"A voice said 'RUN, RUN, RUN'": (2:44)
"I don't even recall making the picture that wound up in the paper the next day. After we saw the flames and smoke blow out of the South Tower, I instinctively pulled the camera up and started shooting. I, I don't remember making the picture.

"Time, time stood still. I have no idea how long after the second tower was hit that it fell down. The South Tower fell down first---the second tower to get hit, it fell down first. Um, I'd just run into a friend of min, Glenn Petite, and um, he was amazed, he was excited, he said he had some unbelievable video of the second plane hitting the building. And we just gave each other a hug and said be careful and I went straight, I went north on West Street, and he went right, he went east on, um...he went east. And, I don't know how long after, after that we heard, I was just walking by myself and heard this---another loud noise, like, that kind of echoed the, echoed the first noise, looked up, figuring OK, it's another aircraft, and the whole building was just disintegrating. The building was, it was, starting to come down, my initial reaction was to grab my camera and to hold it up, ah, my initial reaction was to start taking pictures, but somewhere in the back of my mind, um, came a voice that just said run. Run, run, run. And in doing this for more than twenty years, I have never run from anything, but there is no doubt in my mind that if I had not listened to the voice inside my head that said run, if I had stopped and just taken the pictures that I would not have been here today. Um, Glenn Petite is among the list of the missing, I was assume he is among the list of the dead. Father Mike Judge, the fire department chaplain was probably fifty or sixty feet away from me when he was killed by falling debris. I don't know how I'm still alive today.
There are only two images in the record attributed to Handschuh at the World Trade Center that day. His famously published shot was taken in the shadow of the Marriott Hotel and the South Tower just after "the plane" strikes the second tower, although Handschuh languages that as "after we saw the flames and smoke blow out of the South Tower." This would place him just north of the South Bridge overpass. Handschuh then moves north on West Street, while his friend went east on Liberty Street.

We don't know how far up West Street Handschuh got before the first collapse, but we can assume he had made it pass the World Financial Center buildings, and into the residential section north of there, which he calls "Battery Park City." I'll skip transcribing an intermediate segment, where during the collapse he takes cover under a car or truck, gets his leg broken somehow, and then gets rescued by three firemen. We'll pick his narration back up in the next segment:

"The second tower comes down..." (3:37)
"We all wound up in a delicatessen, I guess about a block away in Battery Park City. A lot of people were seeking shelter there. Of course, there was still a ton of debris coming down and out of nowhere comes Todd Maisel, one of my co-workers and I don't know if he recognized me at first, I guess he---I'm laying on the floor, the place is packed like an A train. I'm trying not to get my leg stepped on, um, all of a sudden the second tower comes down, and debris just starts flying again and I guess the facade, or some part of the building that we were in came down. Turned to, turned to dark again outside and, um, a bunch of grown men inside holding on to each other for dear life. Um, some were calm and some were screaming. Somebody says we have to get out of here. So using hand tools and just sheer strength and the desire to live, they pushed their way out, out of the debris and opened the front door, and somebody says, “we're getting you out of here. Um, they weren't leaving me there. They just---like we're all in this together. We'll make sure that, we'll make sure that you're OK. And I knew that they would."

So, I wound up with three guys carrying me---a cop, a firefighter and a paramedic. And my arms around their shoulders, their hands are under my thigh, my leg is dangling in front of me, and every, every bump is like, um, white light, you know, the pain is just amazing. Um, they carried me down to um, down to the Hudson, down to the river, there is a harbor launch there, a police boat there. Somehow, somebody grabs a back board, and they put me on the back board and they put me on the deck of the police, police boat. A police department lieutenant there with a concussion, with a head injury, and she's bleeding from the head. Um, the firefighter that's injured, we must have been some sight laying on the front of the, on the front of the boat, um. And I can't see anything, because I don't have my glasses, but I remember looking up and seeing this beautiful blue sky and the sun feels great on my face, and um, the humidity's low, ah, it'd be a real nice day to, you know, take a cruise in New York harbor, Um, but this bizarre blurry scene in front of me. Smoke drifting off into the horizon and a big hole where the twin towers were. Um, unbelievable.
Having completely blown his credibility with his gratuitous mention of being a witness to Father Mychal Judge's death (It's not his fault. The script writers had several draft versions of his demise making the rounds.) you might think Handschuh would stop mentioning other people. I don't know anything about his friend Glenn Petite, other than he's useful dead to still carry water for jet airplanes, but Todd Maisel has his own story to tell, and by placing Maisel in a particular place at a particular time, Handschuh introduces a conflict in the storyline.

In the American Media, Inc. special commemorative edition 9/11 One Year Later: A Nation Remembers Maisel's story is deserving of two full pages---but alas! It implicates another player in the drama. Who is to become compromised after that, I wonder?
"When New York City firefighter Kevin Shea raced to the World Trade Center on September 11th, he arrived with 12 of his comrades from Ladder Company 35.

"Two days later when he woke up in St. Vincent's Hospital, he was the only one of them alive.

"Shea has been wracked with guilt the past year, fighting each day to move on with his life.

“'Kevin doesn't really remember what exactly happened,' photographer Todd Maisel said.

"The shutterbug, however, was there to witness the entire ordeal.

“'All of the firefighters raced into the lobby of the South Tower. When the building started to crumble, Kevin raced back outside and was hit on the head with falling debris. The implosion tossed him 30 feet into the street. He crawled another 200 feet and then collapsed.' Maisel said.

"Semiconscious and severely injured, Shea started to scream for help, and that's when Maisel along with rescue workers began to dig him out of the rubble.

“'I thought he was dead at first,' Maisel said. “Then I heard his screams and did what I could to get him out of there. I was lucky to make it out alive myself.”

"According to Maisel, Shea has had a difficult time dealing with the tragedy over the past year.

"'He's had a real tough time of it,' Maisel said. “He deals with guilt every day. He was the sole survivor of his brigade and he can't help but wonder why it was that he lived. It's a lot of weight to carry around."
Complicating this story are several references to Kevin Shea found in the firemen's testimonies published in the New York Times. A conflict with the visual evidence seen above comes from that of Captain Paul Conlon

"So we go to pick him up. He's big guy. Other firemen stopped to help us pick him up. I didn't know who at that time. I've heard who since. I think all of 205 Engine stopped to help us pick him up and think two members of 217 stopped to help us. I don't know who helped actually pick him up or who helped do other stuff. We were taking his coat off. We were picking him up. Someone picked up his helmet and things like that.

"Called Engine 216 to command post Mayday. I have member with life-threatening injury. One of the guys says he still has a pulse. They took his pulse right on the ground there. We got him under the scaffolding.

"When I called the Mayday I also called for an ambulance at West and Liberty because they couldn't have gotten an ambulance any closer to us. I didn't realize where Liberty was really. I thought I was at Liberty. I guess was at Albany. I called for the ambulance. I called the Mayday. We get him under the scaffolding, two guys come running up with a long board, two firemen came running up with an orange long board. They must have gotten it off their rig. Think they were from 217.

"We put the long board down. We put him on the long board. We take off his coat, and his mask, whatever wasn't off already. The guys were doing CPR. The ambulance came up pretty quickly. They came running down the bloc, two medics, or they might have been EMTs. They were medics."
Although consistently purposefully vague throughout his testimony, Conlon is more than explicit when he says Suhr was moved to under the scaffolding on the north side of 90 West Street before firemen "came running up with an orange long board. They must have gotten it off their rig. Think they were from 217. We put the long board down. We put him on the long board."

In that of Firefighter Dean Beltrami, speaking about a definable moment 15 or 20 minutes before the first collapse, he says,
"So then we proceeded down West Street and when I heard a Handi-Talkie report of Firefighter Kevin Shea, I knew Kevin Shea from another company that I worked at. Kevin Shea is missing. Immediately after I heard that Kevin Shea was safe. He's in an ambulance."
Firefighter Richard Boeri said,
"Dr. Kelly said, "Come with me. We'll
wash you up. You're hurt." So I told the officer I'm going with him, which we proceeded to go to Albany Street, I guess, half a block to a parking garage, which is in the Hudson View West, in the Hudson Tower here. In there they had a guy on the back board, Kevin Shea, who I guess he was hurt before the collapse because there was something---they had him on a back board and everything.
I love it when these men leave hints in their truncated grammar---as they abandon thoughts for being too informative dot, dot, dot. Both of these references support Shea's being attended to prior to the first collapse, and since the photo of him lying amid debris is a bad fake, his having broken away early from his team's efforts seems significant.

I might surmise, given his unit was "wiped out," that Kevin Shea was also part of a group contract, to be "disappeared"---into an extended Thai sex vacation, with a seven-figure annuity, is the best I can come up with. But he got cold feet at the last moment, maybe at the thought of abandoning a family. If true, his decision would constitute the first morally righteous act I've encountered since I began studying the 9/11 record, and its about time. If he has suffered a shunning by his band of brothers for breaking the unbreakable, so much the better. He earned a penance, and this represents that a tide has turned.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, Todd Maisel is seriously occupied, at a point far removed from Handschuh, near Liberty Street, and east of West Street. When Handschuh says of his friend, Glenn Petite,
"and I went straight, I went north on West Street, and he went right, he went east on, um...he went east."
he was describing Maisel's position relative to him during the period between the collapses.

Whatever is going on with Kevin Shea , it would appear he had to go outside the family for help from Maisel, to concoct this little confection of a cover story. Handschuh's gratuitous name dropping only spreads his own guilt and shame around---for lying and co-conspiring to murder and arson as the rest---like peanut butter on a sandwich---but spread too thin for his New York Daily News co-worker, Todd Maisel. And the beleaguered firefighter, Kevin Shea's story was never going to come together anyway.

Handschuh's web page lists this image as his third shot taken on 9/11. Of it, he says, "Rescue Company 1 heads towards the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th, 2001. All 11 firefighters lost their lives that morning." Very moving if true---but ballsy of him to be following the fire apparatus going the wrong way against traffic. But it brings up a point that all of the images from 9/11 are interchangeable amongst the participants, with the media stars getting to claim credit for the winning shots. He might have only taken three pictures, but they are so narratively rich they make my teeth ache. I'd like to see a few of his unpublished "selects" by way of context.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!

Better late than never. I just found the following image hosted by The Digital Journalist, naturally, where it is captioned:
"New York Daily News staff photographer David Handschuh lies in pain after his leg was shattered by falling debris while he was photographing the terrorist attack on, and ensuing collapse of, the World Trade Center on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Photo by Todd Maisel / New York Daily News"
More narrative juice, this time David is in front of the camera! Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, be gone! But why is Maisel's lens all screwed up in his big moment?

(Read spook's comment appended below about the unnatural position of Handschuh's legs.)

Oh, by the way David--you are an incredibly good photographer! Truth and reconciliation commission, amnesty, restitution, catharsis, reward. A piece of cake dude!

I found another one, and now I get it, sorry to be so slow---you are a scripted element. This isn't accidental narrative, it is synthetic. Does this mean you let somebody whack your leg? Dude. That shit's cold. I hope for your sake the pic ran somewhere. But now, I can't see the Digital Journalist© as being anything more than Rovian hagiography. In fact, this organization may be a central Nexis between power and portrayer. All those years in Vietnam couldn't have been very healthy for the guys upstairs.

Anyway, hocus-pocus...I got my focus. And I'll keep plugging away guys. Two more down, I'd say.

"Father Mike was a dear friend..." 2:58
"Father Mike was a dear friend. Father Mike was the um, absolute embodiment of what good is. There's this Franciscan friar in his sandals and his long brown robe. And he'd be hugging you and blessing you at a fire in Harlem at four o'clock in the morning. And, and he would put his hands on you and you would feel just right and he did that for everybody who he met. So, ah, realizing that I was---they wanted to do a surgery on my leg, and ah, there will have been many, many more friends who have been lost, I didn't think that I'd have another opportunity to pay my respects to anybody whose life has been lost. So, it was really important to me to go down to Father Mike's funeral, and I thank our local volunteer ambulance corps who came and grabbed me. Came in their dress uniform and drove into the city, took time away from their own families, their own Saturday afternoon pursuits at home to, ah, to help me say goodbye to a friend, and um, they wheeled me right up to the front of the church, which had a pretty steep steps, and I think somebody yelled, "We need to get a brother into the church,"and then all of a sudden there's eight firemen there, carrying me up the steps of the church. Um, it was good to be there. He'll be missed, there are many people who will be missed. I looked through the list, I looked through the list of the missing---rescue workers the other day, and all of a sudden it kinda hit home: the names of friends, the names of people guy was a teacher who traded an eight to three job with summers off, to become an emergency service cop. Another guy whose father was a long-time firefighter who rescue company and he was an emergency service cop you know fathers and sons and just good, good people who aren't coming back. I feel pretty lucky, for some reason I feel...I don't know how I'm here."
Well, apparently Maisel doesn't feel there's any problem reconciling these two elements of his story. In Running toward danger: stories behind the breaking news of 9/11Rowman & Littlefield, 2002
Todd Maisel Photographer (New York) Daily News

New York: I dived into a building lobby, rolling and striking a wall as I came to rest in a fetal position. Walls and ceilings exploded. Debris rained from everywhere. The lobby fell dark and I could barely breathe. Was this going to be my tomb? I began crawling out (of the building lobby) backward the same way I believed I came from. The street was littered with over-turned ambulances, emergency vehicles burning.

A firefighter stood among the burning trucks, a water can in his hand, gazing up at the sky blankly. I began going from ambulance to firetruck looking for injured. I could hear a voice calling for help. I came upon a medic with a partially covered firefighter. We pushed the semi-conscious firefighter on to a backboard and carried him with rescuers at least two blocks, where we found the fire surgeon (although injured, he survived.)

Then I found fellow photographer David Handschuh of the (New York) Daily News, his leg broken in three places. A cop and two firefighters carried him, and I took his cameras.

New York Daily News photographer Todd Maisel (in red helmet) and fire...
It would seem to me to be logistically impossible to have been in both places---south of the South Tower and north of the North Tower---given a window of opportunity of only 29 minutes, between the first collapse at 9:59 a.m. and the second collapse at 10:28 a.m.

National Press Photographers Association

"In 2000, [sic] Maisel was honored by the National Press Photographers Association at their national convention in Minneapolis with the Humanitarian Award for saving the life of a firefighter trapped in the debris after the collapse of one of the two World Trade Center towers and for his work during rescue operations, raising money for widows and orphans and saving the images of photographer David Handschuh who was injured in the 9-11 attack. The Uniform Firefighters Association honored him for his photos and rescue work."
Maisel's interesting embeddment at the start of the Iraq war.

Todd Maisel's "The Hand"


  1. good work. that photo of DH with lying down with his leg "shattered" is mighty odd-- it looks as if both his legs have been taken off at the knee. But clearly they weren't-- so why such an unnatural position? That would be the last position you'd want to be in with a "shattered leg"-- if nothing else simply because it would be incredibly painful.

  2. Outstanding investigative work. Considering the person involved, it does not surprise me in the least.

  3. Re the point made about Shea being injured before the first collapse. Beltrami and Boeri comments both actually seem to relate to post the first collapse if you read their comments within the time frame context of their accounts. Although Boeri presumes Shea was injured before the first collapse it is actually well after it (from his account given his actions described after the collapse) that he sees Shea in the ambulance. Boeri also talks about a board being sent for for Shea but it is not clear when this was or even if he is mixing it up with the board sent for for Dan Suhr. The picture in the deli does look odd and seems to me similar to him later being carried with his legs dangling down. Handchu's story about what went on in the deli and Maisel being there, do not seem to fit in with Charlie Wells oral history account of finding him in the deli seemingly alone and taking him out on his own before a couple of others help along the way outside.