Life People

Marcy Borders, Dead at 42

Marcy Borders, made famous as the subject of ‘The Dust Lady’ photograph by Stan Honda, has died following a year-long battle with cancer. As a 28-year old Bank Of America employee, she’d barely escaped from the 81st floor of the North Tower before it collapsed, saved in the end perhaps by someone who pulled her into the lobby of another building, where Stan Honda captured the iconic image.

“A woman came in completely covered in grey dust. You could tell she was nicely dressed for work and for a second she stood in the lobby. I took one shot of her before the police officer started to direct people up a set of stairs, thinking it would be safer off the ground level.”

– Stan Honda (via bbc)

Her immediate survival of such a traumatic event wasn’t the end, 9/11 left a long shadow on her life and eventually claimed it almost 14 years later.

Borders’ life spiralled downward after that fateful moment in 2001. She battled severe depression and became addicted to crack cocaine. “I didn’t do a day’s work in nearly 10 years, and by 2011 I was a complete mess,” she said. “I was convinced Osama bin Laden was planning more attacks. Every time I saw an aircraft, I panicked. If I saw a man on a building, I was convinced he was going to shoot me.”

“I was picking the junk off the desk, getting ready to start my day,” Borders said in an interview in 2011. “That was then the plane hit. That’s when the building started quaking and swaying. I lost all control, and I went into a frenzy. I fought my way out of that place.

“Hundreds of people were trying to get out. My stairwell was badly damaged and we had to move stairwells, I was convinced we were going to die. I’m so glad I had the strength to get to the bottom. There were wounded and the injured, it was too much for one to witness.

“I saw people with things sticking out of them, covered head to toe in blood. I couldn’t understand it. What I saw was carnage, and I thought, ‘God, I’m going to die anyway’.”