In memory of 9/11 and the events of that day, we wanted to repost the following experience from a fellow Mainland Kama’aina.
Maurice Matsumori is one of the happiest people I know. He radiates positivity and you can’t help but feel excited for life when you are around him. I first met him at 8am the day after we moved to Cedar Hills. Maurice was out on a run with his twin toddlers and we were still recovering from moving the day before. However, within a few minutes we became good friends. Maurice actually grew up in Utah but spent two years in Hawaii on a LDS Mission and another five doing his undergraduate at BYU-Hawaii. He is as genuine and authentic as they come – a true local to all. In our neighborhood, he’s been one of the organizers of “Potluck Sunday” that he holds with a number of local families once a month.
Maurice is the founder of stokemeter.com – a website dedicated to wakeboarding and a number of other ‘extreme’ sports. He is also an expert in human leadership development; a field that, prior to starting stokemeter.com, he helped a number of major companies with in New York City. It was during this time in his life that Maurice experienced 9/11 firsthand.
Maurice said that following the first plane collision he was on his way to the subway and ‘the furthest thing from anyone’s mind was that the building would collapse” commented Maurice. By his estimations, he was no more than 200 yards from the towers. “Knowing full well that I could not outrun the debris, I stayed and took a picture as the building crumbled. . . if something happened to me, they would know where I was at the time of the accident.”
Maurice felt the full impact of the blast and helped others as they made their way to a nearby building. He still wasn’t sure what would happen to him, “The building was 11 John Street. I feel it ironic that the number of the building correlates with the day (Sept 11) of this tragic event. It seemed as though this building would be our grave . . . . we all knew that if it (the second tower) fell eastward, the building we were in was well within the range of such a fall.”
The group worked their way through the building and devised an escape plan. They formed a ‘buddy system’ and began making their way down the street away from the chaos. . . It was then that the second tower collapsed. “Suddenly, people began screaming again. . . the other building, which no more than a few minutes before I had photographed, began to tumble to the earth. The women I was with couldn’t sprint so I walked with her. Fortunately, we were a greater distance from the scene and the debris was minimal.”
Maurice said that since there were no other options, he knew he’d join the tens of thousands that were making their treks home – six miles for Maurice. “My heart swelled within me when I saw those who, in everyday life, would not give each other the time of day, offer assistance. There were people from stores that had water stands out for the people walking home, there were persons that opened up their bathrooms for others to use – that’s a BIG deal in New York.”
Maurice quickly becomes a friend with everyone he meets and walking home that day was no exception. One of them was a gentleman who had taken his son to school and was late coming to work. . . . . a decision that probably saved his life. When Maurice reflects on his experience where he actually accepted his own death, he stated that it was interesting what comes to mind about life, “. . .and it wasn’t how much money I made. . . how much power I had.” He decided that the best way he could live his life was to:
- Be clean before the Lord
- Treat others with respect – learn to love and serve them
- Be productive