Gabi Dick, 19, (pictured) was born six days after his father died in the 9/11 attacks. The teen says his fathers death was ‘life-altering,’ citing longtime fears of airplanes, elevators and tall buildings
Video shows a the momentous feat when a 19-year-old whose father died in the 9/11 attacks conquers his fears of elevators and tall buildings by riding to the top of the World Trade Center.
Gabriel ‘Gabi’ Jacobs Dick has spent the majority of his life afraid of airplanes, elevators and tall buildings after his father, sales executive Ariel Jacobs, was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
The teen, born six days after his father’s death, told People that his father’s death was ‘life-altering’ and played a significant role in his phobias.
Dick, who always avoided elevators and only flew when necessary, decided just this summer that it was time to conquer his fears.
‘I thought, “I can do that — go up the elevator. And if I can do that, hopefully I have nothing to be afraid of — at least in regards to elevators,”‘ he told the magazine.
‘The point of terrorism is to instill fear in the minds of your victims. So in a sense, if you’re terrorized, they’re successful.’
Dick has always avoided elevators and only flew when necessary. It wasn’t until this pat summer that he decided it was time to conquer his fears
He said: ‘I thought, “I can do that — go up the elevator. And if I can do that, hopefully I have nothing to be afraid of — at least in regards to elevators. The point of terrorism is to instill fear in the minds of your victims. So in a sense, if you’re terrorized, they’re successful’
The SUNY Purchase College junior said he was scared as he waited for the elevator that would carry him to the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center.
He said he thought: ‘I’m going up there — of course it’s going to happen to me.’
‘In a sense, I thought I was cursed,’ Dick said.
‘As soon as I go up there, there’s a risk.’
According to Dick, making the journey to the top of the World Trade Center changed his life.
‘Being up there, I felt a crazy release of tension, like everything was going to be okay; I’m alive and I don’t have to think like that anymore,’ he said.
‘When I looked out over the city, I thought, “This was the last view my dad had — it’s not the last view I will have.”‘
As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks near, Dick and his mother, Jenna Jacobs McPartland, are reflecting on the event as well as Ariel’s death.
Jenna Jacobs McPartland (left) is reflecting on the death of her former husband, Ariel Jacobs (right), as the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches
‘For any parent, watching their kids turn 20 and become an adult is an unreal experience — and to put that into the context of 9/11 and not having his father all these 20 years makes it all the more unreal,’ McPartland, who has since remarried, told the magazine.
‘I think I’m the most proud that he is a man of self-reflection and convictions and he’s kind.’
She continued: ‘I have wanted him to grow up, be his own person and make his own decisions on how to handle his dad’s memory and the legacy of 9/11, and I’m happy he’s doing that. And I’m proud of him for assuring that while 9/11 is a part of who he is today, it’s not his single identity. Gabi lives in the present, and that’s great for him.’
Dick echoed his mothers comment, saying: ‘I can’t imagine my dad would want me to think about it all the time or ask myself crazy what-if questions. There’s no answer. If I died I wouldn’t want my kid to think about it all the time.’
‘Now I honor him by being alive, being happy and living a great life. My 9/11 story ends with, “I’m okay. I’m 19. My story is still evolving.”‘
You can learn more about Dick’s story, along with the stories of several other kids who were born after their fathers died in the 9/11 attacks, in the new documentary Rebuilding Hope: The Children of 9/11, which is now streaming on Discovery+.
Dick said making the journey to the top of the World Trade Center changed his life and his way of thinking