Tulsans escape buildings unhurt
BY JOHN STANCAVAGE AND LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writers
Sep 12, 2001
5/06/08 at 12:17 AM
At least six Morgan Stanley trainees from the Tulsa area were in
the World Trade Center towers at the time of the attacks but managed to evacuate.
Tulsa-area resident Brock Rowlett was on the 63rd floor of the World Trade Center's south tower
when he heard an explosion and then, looking south out a window, saw a shower of paper.
Most of it was on fire.
Within seconds, he and other Tulsa trainees of the Morgan Stanley investment firm headed for
the stairs of the 110-floor building, not waiting for the alarm that went off soon after.
After descending about 40 floors and becoming tired, they felt another tremendous blast but
stayed on their feet in the now-packed stairwell as the entire
building swayed back and forth several feet.
The group, along with hundreds of other building workers, emerged on the street below and
were directed by emergency personnel to go north.
Rowlett, 23, and his co-workers stopped several times to look back at the smoke and
destruction. They saw people jumping from the upper floors of the two burning towers. They
turned away and didn't look back.
"It's an amazing gift that God gave us that Brock didn't get hurt," said his father, Paul
Rowlett, who lives near Claremore.
Brock Rowlett and five other Tulsa Morgan Stanley trainees avoided injury in the terrorist
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., several Oklahoma bankers and a state financial official were
attending a meeting when they witnessed the aftermath of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting
Brock Rowlett spoke to his father and mother, Jeanne, several times Tuesday afternoon,
relating his story. Reached at a New York hotel by the Tulsa World, Brock Rowlett said his escape was "amazing," but that he
was asked by his employer not to be interviewed by the press.
Paul Rowlett, who related his son's ordeal, said Brock arrived in New York on Sunday for
three weeks of training. Brock Rowlett, who attended Oologah High School, had been hired by
Morgan Stanley's Tulsa office in May just days after graduating from Missouri Southern State
"He really had been very excited about going to New York," Paul Rowlett said. "Now my wife
and I really are looking forward to him coming back."
The Rowletts said their son did not know when he would return home.
Another of Morgan Stanley's Tulsa trainees was Whitney Roller, daughter of Dr. Don and
Don Roller said his daughter "was pretty shook" by the event.
Connie Roller was teaching a class at a family medicine clinic
in Broken Arrow when she heard about the attack.
"I didn't know if she got far enough away or not, that is just where you have to trust God.
I figure if he got her out, he surely would get her far enough away," Connie Roller said.
The couple's 23-year-old daughter has been at Morgan Stanley since mid-May, her mother
said. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.
"We've prayed real hard for those that didn't make it. I can't imagine how awful it would be
for them," Connie Roller said.
Morgan Stanley's Web site said the firm had 3,500 employees in the complex.
A Tulsa employee of the investment company, who asked not to be identified, said there were
six Tulsans -- four men and two women -- attending a training session for financial advisers in
the south World Trade Center tower at the time of the attack. "They all are safe," the
employee said, but she would not provide names.
Bankers unhurt: A group of local and state banking officials did not
have as close an escape in Washington after the Pentagon was attacked, but members were shaken
Roger Beverage, the president of the Oklahoma Bankers Association, was among 32 bankers
visiting the city for an annual meeting with regulators. The group included Tulsan Don Walker,
the president of Arvest State Bank.
"Nobody panicked. I was just kind of standing there stunned and in disbelief," Beverage
said in a telephone interview from Washington. "There were no TVs, so we didn't know what had
happened in New York at that point. You can't believe what you're seeing."
Beverage and his colleagues, who were on the ninth floor of the Hart Senate Office
Building, had just finished listening to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and were waiting for Sen.
Don Nickles, R-Okla., to arrive when the attack occurred, he said. They saw fire from their
"It was just like a huge mushroom of flames and smoke that went up. We were all standing
there wondering what in the hell just happened," Beverage said. At first, he assumed it was a
terrorist bombing, similar to the attack on Oklahoma City.
"All of a sudden there was a plane, I presume a military plane, that was circling. It
just came out of nowhere and circled over the Pentagon and took off again," he said.
After Nickles arrived, the group went downstairs to the senator's office, watched CNN for a
few minutes and then evacuated the building.
John Stancavage, World business editor, can be reached at 581-8314 or via e-mail
at email@example.com . Laurie Winslow, World staff writer, can be reached at
581-8466 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .