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Bay Area 9/11 Survivor Fondly Remembers His Special Hero

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Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle

Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle (www.michaelhingson.com)

DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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SAN RAFAEL (KCBS) – One of the heroes of the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center passed away two months ago in San Rafael.

But her spirit lives on through a bestselling new book written by the blind man she helped escape from the burning skyscraper.

Michael Hingson of San Rafael survived the attack on the World Trade Center thanks in part to his guide dog, Roselle. Blind since birth, the events of that day are seared into his memory, even though he couldn’t see the fire, the smoke and the towers crumbling around him.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

“It certainly seems like hardly any time has gone by and it’s already 10 years later, but when I stop and think about it, how much stuff has happened in the last 10 years,” Hingson said.

He was working on the 78th floor of Tower One when the first hijacked plane hit.

“We said goodbye to each other because we thought we were going to take a 78 floor plunge to the street,” said Hingson.

But his seeing-eye yellow lab stayed calm which told him they had time to escape. “I took her leash and I told her to heel, which meant to come around on my left side and sit, which she did,” Hingson said. “At that time, the building dropped straight down about six feet.”

Roselle got Hingson out, just before the towers collapsed. He was one of 14,000 survivors. “I never had anything like survivor’s remorse or anything like that,” he said.

Hingson and Roselle came home to California and became the national spokesteam for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

“Talking about something helps you move on from it,” he said.

Ten years later, Hingson is a public speaker, teambuilder and the author of “Thunderdog,” a book that soared onto the best seller lists as soon as it came out last month.

“It’s a book that I hope will inspire people and change attitudes about what it means to be blind in this country,” he said.

Sadly, Roselle died shortly before the book came out after becoming gravely ill at the age of 13. Hingson’s new guide dog is Africa, another yellow lab.

They will not be in New York for the 10th anniversary remembrances as he said that survivors aren’t invited and don’t get the attention that the victim’s families do.

“I’m not bitter about that. I just find it interesting that they didn’t provide the same sort of equal level of trying to support all those people that have to live with it, day-in and day-out, because they were there,” Hingson said.

He said he hopes Americans relive September 11th and are inspired by the memories to heal themselves and help those around them.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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