On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives—and these seven people could have been among the casualties had it not been for a twist of fate that kept them out of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in Manhattan on that fateful Tuesday morning. Read on to learn about those who survived because of seemingly random occurrences.

Her mom’s persistence saved her life

For Holly Winter, September 11, 2001, was going to be the day of a blissful reunion for her and her college friends—but her own mother’s intuition saved her. Winter, who lived in Denver at the time, tells Reader’s Digest, “I was supposed to be at the Twin Towers on September 11 with my two best friends from college, who lived in Chicago and New York City. Because the NYC-based friend worked non-stop, Winter and her other friend coordinated their calendars for a surprise breakfast picnic on September 11 in New York at his office in the original One World Trade Center. “It was the only date that worked for both of us. Our plan was to fly into the city the night before, then show up at his office at 8:00 a.m. with a breakfast of champagne and caviar—his favorites.”

She continues, “I called my mom who lived in upstate New York to let her know her I was coming to town, and she told me she was coming to visit me instead. I begged her to change her trip, reminding her that she was retired, so her schedule was more flexible. She refused, saying it felt like the right time to visit.”

Winter canceled the trip with her friends. “My Chicago friend decided to make the trip without me. The surprise worked as planned and they called me at 8:00 a.m., and we laughed and talked for a while. I hung up so that they could enjoy the visit without keeping me on the phone. I lost them both.”