'It changed every single aspect of my life'

'It changed every single aspect of my life' »Play Video
In this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, smoke billows from the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. (AP Photo/Gulnara Samoilova)
SEATTLE -- It's hard to imagine the horror of September 11 making someone's life better. But after 10 years, that's how it feels for a local man who survived the terror attacks at the World Trade Center.

Dan Pelletier was there for job training with Morgan Stanley. It was his first trip to New York City. He stepped out of the first tower for a cigarette break when terror struck.

He ran for his life, escaping as people around him died.

"That was completely ugly. A crowd mob scene in panic is not a good thing, and I was smack in the middle of it," he said. "When you have very specific memories of the woman in the black and white dress and the high heels going down, and the guy trying to help her and all of a sudden..." he trails off.

I know how Dan would finish the story, because he's told me bits and pieces before. When I first interviewed him in 2001, he talked about seeing groups of people crushed by falling debris, and how he survived by inches.


Dan Pelletier

On that one year anniversary, he described himself as "edgy." At five years, he reached a drastic turning point in his life.

No longer a money man, he traded the tie for a business selling and studying tarot cards for Tarot Garden. He's still at it today, because 9/11 taught him to embrace his passions.

"Everything. It changed every single aspect of my life," he said. "Very much for the better."

But he's still working on his demons.

In May, Dan was in New York City for the third time in his life. This time it was for a tarot card conference. He made his presentation there, despite unexplained, intense back pain.

"It was miserable," he described. "I couldn't eat, couldn't drink. I was miserable."

The pain was overwhelming by the time he got back to his hotel. That's when he saw the breaking news on a lobby television: U.S. troops killed Osama Bin Laden.

"All I could do was go out into the parking lot and cry," Pelletier said. "The president's on the TV talking about closure and relief for victims, and people are cheering. And all I could do was go out into the parking lot and cry."

He says he cried for all the victims of the terror attacks whose lives couldn't be brought back by Bin Laden's death. He worked through his emotional pain, and in turn he says, his physical pain.

"Monday morning I woke up and I was pain free. I had no backache. I've had no risidual backache."

He does still have the haunting memories.

"Ten years later, it's not like that goes away. It just gets muffled a bit," he said.

But he refuses to be miserable. He is, in fact, happy.

"I'm where I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to be here. But I couldn't be here if I hadn't gone through that. Because I wouldn't have appreciated here."