9/11 Stories: The Megna Family

On September 11, 2001 , 26-year-old Chris Megna was working for the Essex County, New Jersey Sheriff’s department in Newark when he heard that a plane flew into The World Trade Center. Even before the 2nd plane hit, Chris was convinced this was the terror attack his dad always said was coming. He headed straight to the Police Academy to grab his youngest brother, 23-year-old Mark, and the two then headed to Pompton Lakes, New Jersey to pick up their oldest brother, Mike Jr. All had one mission: find their dad. They didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Two blocks away from The Holland Tunnel, a wrong-way car was speeding at them. Mike grabbed the wheel from Chis, leaving them side-swiped and not hit head-on. The wrong-way driver was a woman covered in dust, frantically driving to safety in New Jersey, having just escaped the collapse of the two towers.

The brothers were basically ok, save for Mike Jr.’s broken shoulder, which in his adrenalized state, he ignored. A female Port Authority cop came to check on them and the brothers quickly learned their dad was alive. Moments later, almost like in a movie, dad Michael was right in front of them, their stoic dad breaking down in tears at the sight of them. His 3 good friends who helped in the 1993 World Trade Center rescue were all dead. Dad Michael drove his three sons into the city because the brothers all wanted to help. Although all of the men survived that day, the Megna brothers say their lives were ruined by doing the right thing on 9/11. Chris and Mark have severe respiratory issues and PTSD. Now 48, Mike Jr. is on daily dialysis, in need of a transplant for very rare kidney disease, an illness NOT YET certified as a 9/11 illness. He says he has lost everything: his home, his wife, and at times, his sanity. 15 years ago he lost his job after pleading guilty to hindering prosecution of a drug ring. Megna resigned from the police department.