NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A native Nashvillian, who now works for the Tennessee Bureau of investigation, was in New York City the morning of September 11, 2001.
He planned to visit the Twin Towers observation deck. The experience he had that day changed the course of his life.
Joshua Savely is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge in the Criminal Investigative Division at TBI. His path to service started two decades ago while standing near the tip of lower Manhattan.
“At the time, I worked for an adoption agency that did humanitarian aid work. We were starting a month-long camp the morning of September 11th.”
Savely says the day’s plan was set to kick off early that morning. “We were headed to the World Trade Center. We were going to take these kids up to the top of the observation deck.”
The trip was set to be featured in a documentary about adoption.
“The first time God spared my life that day was because the film crew was late. Had they been on time, we would have been, you know, up there,” Savely says.
Instead, about a half-mile away at a hotel near the Brooklyn Bridge, the group stood waiting.
“I heard the plane hit, and I thought what in the world? What’s that?” recalls Savely.
He turned to his friend Eric Mims, “I’m like, ‘dude, I think a plane just flew into the World Trade Center.'”
The two decided to run toward the smoldering towers.
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“I don’t know what it was exactly at that moment that just said, ‘go help,'” Savely says.
The friends were stuck at an intersection blocks away when the second plane struck.
“It was instantaneous that everyone understood this was no accident,” says Savely. “So again, the second time that day, God used traffic to spare my life.”
Unsure where to go, “We began to see officers, and they started telling people to get back,” Savely says the friends changed course and went back to the hotel to regroup.
The towers collapsed.
“The dust was, it was everywhere. It was hard to breathe. That’s why we were trying to grab everybody and just pull them into the hotel.”
The duo wanted to do more. Savely says there was a hospital just a couple of blocks away.
They make it to the parking lot. “Hey, we’re here. We’re here. We want to give blood. We want to do whatever.”
But, they were met with doctors and nurses standing outside with empty wheelchairs and stretchers.
“It was really chilling the response that we got was, there’s nobody coming,” remembers Savely.
The then 23-year-old had been married a month and his fiance and family back in Tennessee were not sure where he was.
“They feared that I was gone,” says Savely. “It was later on that evening before we were able to actually get a phone call out.”
Many lives changed following the attacks including Savely’s “Something happened that day that some people intended for evil. But, I know that for me, it’s turned into good. God inspired in me that day a desire to serve my fellow man in some way.”
And, Savely has served his community in Tennessee ever sense.
September 11, 2001, was a day that changed our country and the world. The fight against terrorism has not ended. Some state and federal law enforcement agencies say we cannot let our guard down. News 2 digs deeper with special reports ‘9/11: 20 Years Later’ all day today in every newscast and on WKRN.com.