As the twin towers came down, Sarah Dickinson, along with her brother Andrew, found themselves unable to leave the city and go home. She told STEVE CARROLL what that terrible day was like

EVERYWHERE she turned, people were crying. Sarah Dickinson had visited the twin towers only hours before disaster struck.

Now the 17-year-old was rooted to the spot in Times Square watching the carnage on a giant television screen.

Around her, thousands of visitors, workers and residents had watched dumbstruck as a second passenger plane glided low over Manhattan and smashed into the second World Trade Centre tower.

Sarah, who was visiting New York with her older brother Andrew, had missed the first impact.

But as she now stood motionless in the heart of the city, a thought struck her: "We can't get home." Transatlantic flights were cancelled as America closed its doors in the face of an unprecedented disaster.

It was to be the start of four worrying days for parents Gowen and Linda, as they waited for word on when their children would return home.

Sarah said: "We first heard it on the radio. We didn't know what had happened really. We just knew that a plane had crashed.

"At first we thought we could get home. We kept ringing British Airways all the time."

They should have been on a plane back home to Fryton, near Hovingham. Instead they were making frantic attempts to call home and assure their parents they were all right.

Then they had to find a bed for the night.

"We didn't know where we were going to stay. We didn't know what was happening," Sarah added.

"We had hardly any money, we had been spending it all that morning and the day before.

We didn't know that we could get our old place back."

It had been a dream holiday - four days in the world's most cosmopolitan city. Now its heart had been ripped out.

Sarah, now 18, said: "People couldn't believe it. Everyone was so shocked. They were running around. We went into Central Park, just sitting there thinking of ways to get home."

Among the last to visit the landmark towers, Sarah said she has blocked out many of the terrible memories of what happened.

"We went past a fire station and there were candles everywhere, and pictures of people," said Sarah, who is taking a year out before going to university.

"All I try to remember now is the good four days I had before the attacks. About a month ago we went to Corfu, I kept thinking that I did not want to get on the plane. I was so anxious.

"We will go back to New York, but not yet. It is a bit early really. It is still painful to think of September 11.

"It was so unreal. We couldn't believe this had happened in the four days we decided to go. We both just feel very lucky."