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'Life's precious': West Bend man details what he saw in New York on 9/11

"It's hard to believe it's actually been 20 years."
Posted at 5:18 PM, Sep 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-11 18:18:51-04

WEST BEND — Americans honored and remembered the men and women who lost their lives 20 years ago in New York City.

September 11th 2001 is when a terrorist group named Al-Qaeda hijacked and flew four commercial airplanes, two crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Virginia, and the last plane crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania.

Brad Riekoff looks through the photos he took in New York on 9/11
Brad Riekoff looks through the photos he took in New York on 9/11

In his home Saturday, Brad Riekkoff sat, flipping through a photo album. Inside were photos he took in New York as planes flew into the twin towers.

"It's hard to believe it's actually 20 years," Riekkoff said. "It's hard to believe time passes that fast."

 Brad Riekoff took this picture at the World Trade Center
Brad Riekoff took this picture at the World Trade Center

While time may not stop, these photos have a way of taking him back to a tragic moment.

Riekkof hoped on a flight from Milwaukee to New York City September 5th to compete in a natural body building show. He was supposed to leave the city on Sept.11 at 11am.

However, that did not happen.

"I was engulfing myself in cheesecake that morning because I had just dieted for the competition," Riekkoff said. "That's the last thing I thought I was going to experience."

He said were screaming, people were running, but nobody knew where to run to and the entire place was chaotic.

"When I hear sirens in a big city echoing off of the buildings," he said. "It takes me right back there."

20 years later and the area is no longer chaotic. Ground Zero as it's called now is a place families come to pay their respects for all the lives lost.

"There's a lot of people that left the earth that day," he said looking through the photos.

Riekkoff told us he's grateful to not only be here today, but more importantly safe.

But, as time goes by he said it's these photos that he took that remind him of the day thousands of lives were lost and the country was forever changed.

Through the chaos that ensued Sept. 11 2001, Riekkoff learned a valuable lesson.

"Life's precious it can change in a second," he said.

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