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Eye Opener: How did IRS workers survive that plane crash?

By Ed O'Keefe

Smoke billows from a seven-story building where offices of the IRS are located in Austin, Tex., after a small private plane crashed into it in February (AP)

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday and Happy St. Patrick's Day! Have you wondered how so many people safely escaped last month's plane crash at Internal Revenue Service offices in Texas?

The plane's pilot and only one IRS worker were killed in the crash -- thanks to quick-thinking employees who had regularly rehearsed fire and evacuation drills.

National Treasury Employee Union President Colleen M. Kelley told lawmakers on Tuesday about the experiences of some of those workers during a House hearing on federal building security. Though it's not the definitive account of the crash and its aftermath, Kelley's testimony merits a mention here:

Upon impact, the burning fuel from the plane quickly filled the air with black smoke making it impossible for many in the building to see anything. Yet, employees near exits delayed their own escape so others could follow their voices and find their way out. Employees who were outside the building went back in to help evacuate disabled employees who worked in the mail room.
An IRS employee with a disability told her co-worker to leave her on the fourth floor because she could not walk down the stairs. He insisted she climb on his back, saying he had carried soldiers that way when he was in the service. He carried her on his back down the four flights to safety.
Andrew Jacobson and Morgan Johnson and four others were trapped on the second floor of the building, unable to get to the exit because of smoke, flames, heat and debris. They crawled on their hands and knees, breathing through clothing they had dampened with water, looking for a way out.
Morgan shouted through a broken window and got the attention of Robin DeHaven, an employee of a glass company, who was miraculously passing by with a 20 foot ladder on his truck. Robin, later dubbed 'Robin Hood' by those he rescued, stopped and tried to reach the trapped employees. The ladder could not reach the window that was already broken. Andrew remembered a four foot metal crow bar used for property seizures was kept in the office.
After a few attempts and several gashes to his hand and wrist, Andrew and the others succeeded in breaking a window through which they could get out and reach the ladder, clearing the glass and helping each other down Robin DeHaven’s ladder to safety.

During the hearing the Federal Protective Service officials said they have taken several steps to address security gaps first exposed last year.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | March 17, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Next: GAO: TSA scanners may not have stopped Detroit bomb plot


The nice thing about safety drills is that they teach people not to panic. You don't need everyone not to panic, just most people. Enough to deal with the few who do. It is something of a wonder more people were not hurt or killed. It's a real testament to the worth of safety drills too. It doesn't take a plane crashing for a serious fire to wreck havoc quickly in an office building.

I was most relieved that all these people were ok. If a lot of little things had happened differently, and people had not acted the way they did, more people would have died. Instead, everyone made the best choices they could, and chose to help others too. Those are the sorts of things that are good about Americans. They vastly outnumber the efforts of one bad actor.

Posted by: Nymous | March 17, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Please call it what it was: a terrorist attack.

Posted by: RatherBeOnATrain | March 17, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Didn't the murderer's daughter say that while she was sorry about the woman getting kiilled (I'm sure that was a relief to her family), she still regarded her father as a hero and understood his motives? He killed one innocent person, and nearly killed many more, and bettered the lives, even a little bit, of no one.

Posted by: Sutter | March 17, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Rebel scum.

Posted by: corrections | March 17, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

>>>Fishing ban? No way, officials say: Despite Internet reports to the contrary, officials say a federal task force will not suggest that President Obama restrict sportfishing off America's coasts and in the Great Lakes.

Sounds like another hoax by Teabaggers.

Posted by: angie12106 | March 17, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

It is sad to see so many side with this terrorist. They see his actions as "justified" and understand why he did what he did

It is sad because these same people were OUTRAGED during 9/11 when the Muslims felt they were "justified" due to religious reasons and flew into the WTC's.

Posted by: Bious | March 17, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

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