Maxwell Helfgott, MD

Maxwell Helfgott, MD

Chair, Department of Ophthalmology
President, Washington National Eye Center
Start Date: 1976


I was in my downtown office, at 20th and L, when I heard the news of the attacks. I knew I had to get to the Hospital Center, but by the time I got to my car, I could go nowhere: traffic was at a standstill.

I remembered that I had a pair of running shoes in the trunk, so I put them on and started jogging to the Center. At one point, I saw a guy on a scooter, zipping around the stalled cars. I flagged him down, showed him my ID, and asked him to get me to the hospital. He said no. You never know how people are going to react in a time of crisis.

So I continued on to the Center, only to get to watch and wait with just about everyone else on staff. There was nothing to do. But I vowed I'd never get struck in traffic like that again. Today I take a Vespa to work.