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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • Gwyneth Paltrow 'humbled' by chance role in saving a life on 9/11

    Call her an accidental hero of 9/11.

    Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow says that she’s “humbly happy” to have played a part in saving Lara Lundstrom Clarke’s life on the day of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

    On September 11, 2001, Paltrow was on her way home from a yoga class when she almost hit a 24-year-old jaywalking pedestrian named Lara Lundstrom with her silver Mercedes SUV.

    “Basically, what happened was I had gone to a yoga class very early,” Paltrow recalled at a press conference for her film “Contagion” in Venice, Italy. “I was on the way home and it was the morning of September 11, not that I knew at the time what that meant, and a girl was jaywalking across the street and we kind of both stopped at the same time and waited a really long time.”

    “I stopped and they screeched to a halt,” Clarke, née Lundstrom, explained of her encounter with Paltrow to the Morton Report. “Then it developed in to one of those classic who-goes-first situations. It got ridiculous. Then I made eye contact with the Mercedes driver. OMG it was Gwyneth Paltrow.”

    The near-miss caused Clarke to miss her usual train at Baseline Financial Services where she worked as an account manager on the 77th floor of the Tower 2 in the Work Trade Center.

    “At that time I was annoyed at everything that had made me late that day, including Gwyneth Paltrow,” said Clarke, who arrived at the World Trade Center  just as the first plane hit.

    “I’m not sure where I would have been had I made the first train, either on the elevator or at my desk,” Clarke wrote in an open letter to Paltrow last month. “I was fortunately able to make it out of the building and walk two blocks north before the second plane literally came into my office.”

    Paltrow acknowledged her fateful role in saving Clarke’s life. “Had we not had that interaction, she feels like her life would’ve taken a much different course,” the movie star explained. “She called it her ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. It was an extraordinary story and all I could think about is all of the people who had experiences like that that day, but aren’t able to reach out because it wasn’t a recognizable person. She saw it was me so she was able to get me a message. But I think a lot of fates were changed that day obviously and I am very humbly happy to be a part in her story.”

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