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Sept. 11 attacks changed Osceola track standout's life

Osceola track standout Domonique Turner moved to Florida after her mother's close encounter during Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks


KISSIMMEE — Sometimes your entire life can change course without your realizing it.
One moment can trigger a series of events that reshape what would have been.

For Domonique Turner, the event was Sept. 11, 2001.

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"I don't remember that day, but I have visited the 9-11 memorial [in New York] with my dad a couple of times," said Turner, a junior on Osceola's track team. "I always think I'm just very lucky that my mom's name isn't written up there on the wall with everyone else's."

When terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center, ending the lives of nearly 3,000 people, they altered countless others, even those too young to remember what happened.

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Turner was 3 years old, and her mother, Lisa, worked for the Bank of New York on Church Street, which formed the eastern boundary of the World Trade Center. Lisa felt the ground shake when the second plane struck and walked nearly two hours to the nearest working subway station to get home to her family in New Jersey.

Turner, her mother and older brother moved to Florida less than a year later when Lisa's job was relocated to Lake Mary. After the move, Turner was introduced to cross-country running and eventually track and field. Now, she is one of the area's best track athletes and will lead the Kowboys in four events — 100- and 300-meter hurdles, high jump and triple jump — at the Class 4A, District 5 tournament next Wednesday at St. Cloud.

Osceola coach Eric Pinellas said Turner could be the "best track-and-field athlete the county has ever seen" by the time she graduates.

"When she has the big moments in track, or even in her life, I have a flashback and think I'm lucky to be here to experience that," said Lisa, who was born in Jamaica and attended the New York Institute of Technology on a track scholarship.

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Until recently, Lisa never had discussed that day with her daughter.

She took the subway from New Jersey to the World Trade Center PATH (Port Authority) Station every day, and Sept. 11, 2001 began no differently. Everyone was calm as she exited the subway car and herded onto a escalator with hundreds of other people.

"You could smell the jet fuel burning," Lisa said. "All of a sudden, we heard, I believe it was an FBI agent or secret agent shouting, 'Run!' So we ran. We didn't know what we were running from."

When she reached the street, it was laden with empty shoes that women had run out of, she said. People congregated in front of the Church Street Station Post Office, staring at the sky.

"That's when I realized the building was on fire," Lisa said of the first tower hit. "There was a huge hole.

"A strange man said to me, 'Look, look,' and that's when you actually saw the people jumping from the building. It was like rag dolls, and you could just see flames. Words couldn't describe it."

With no cellphone service and lines formed around the block for pay phones, she used a convenience store's phone to get a message to her husband at the time, Bryan Turner, who still lives in New York. She then walked four miles to Penn Station, the closest working transit.

"My father picked us up from school, and later that evening, we picked my mom up from the train station," said Turner's brother Bryan, now 25. "The whole Sept. 11 situation changed our lives.

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"My sister never asked me questions about that day, but if she did I would have answered."

Turner knew her family and life had been affected by that day, but as she listened to her mother's account for the first time, she realized something, she said.

"I'm glad I don't remember."

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