Celebrities who nearly died in 9/11
Today marks the 18th anniversary of an event which changed the world forever: 9/11.
All around the world, people looked at their TV screens in horror as they witnessed the devastation caused when terrorists flew commercial planes into New York City's World Trade Center towers, causing the deaths of everyone on board and thousands more in the ensuing chaos.
A third plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and a fourth plane was crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township after its passengers were able to thwart the hijackers.
A total of 2,977 people lost their lives that day, excluding the 19 hijackers. It was the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history.
Now, as we look back, people are remembering how many chance decisions and incidents saved the lives of some of the world's biggest celebrities who nearly found themselves at Ground Zero including Michael Jackson, Mark Wahlberg, and Sarah Ferguson.
Jackson had been due to attend a meeting at the top of one of the towers but overslept after talking to family members late into the evening.
"Thankfully, none of us had had a clue that Michael was due at a meeting that morning at the top of one of the Twin Towers," his mom Jermaine Jackson wrote in his biography, You Are Not Alone.
“We only discovered this when Mother phoned his hotel to make sure he was okay. She, Rebbie [Jackson] and a few others had left him there around 3am," she continued.
"'Mother, I’m okay, thanks to you,'" he told her. 'You kept me up talking so late that I overslept and missed my appointment.'"
However, as we all know, Jackson died just eight years later as the result of an accidental overdose. He was 50.
Another celebrity who almost lost his life that day was Mark Wahlberg. The actor had been scheduled to fly on the doomed American Airlines Flight 11. However, he decided to attend a music festival with friends in Canada at the last minute - a decision which saved his life.
"If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did," he later told Men's Journal.
"There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, 'OK, we're going to land somewhere safely, don't worry.'"
Understandably, he came under fire for this insensitive remark and apologized, admitting, "To speculate about such a situation is ridiculous, to begin with, and to suggest I would have done anything differently than the passengers on that plane was irresponsible.
"I deeply apologize to the families of the victims that my answer came off as insensitive, it was certainly not my intention."
A member of the British Royal Family, Sarah Ferguson, was also due to be in one of the towers that morning. Her charity, Chances for Children, had offices on the 110th floor of the North Tower, and she had a meeting scheduled. However, an interview on NBC with Matt Lauer ran late, saving her life.
While none of the charity's workers lost their lives that day, the entirety of financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald, who had let the charity use some of their office space for free, died. This equated to 700 lives.
Then there's Rob Lowe's terrifying story. The actor had unknowingly been on the terrorist's dummy run rehearsal flights for the attack itself.
While he didn't notice anything unusual on board the flight from Washington DC to Los Angeles, he later testified against attacker Zacarias Moussaoui.
"I flew with the 911 hijackers on the dry run, without realizing. I was shooting The West Wing in DC at the time and I always took the flight that leaves Dulles to Los Angeles that they eventually put into the Pentagon," he said.
"I made the flight a lot and I didn’t think anything of it. I got on the flight and it was packed, small plane," Lowe recalled.
"Looked around the cabin, don't remember anything in particular, nobody looked scary, nobody looked like a terrorist. It looked like an absolutely normal flight."
These celebrity's incredible stories - along with the countless others like them - may be something to be thankful for, but nothing can ever take away the heartache felt every September 11 that has come around since 2001.