Father of Pawtucket man killed in 9/11 attacks reflects on 20th anniversary

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) – The father of a Pawtucket man who lost his life during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, is reflecting on the day that forever changed his family as the 20th anniversary approaches.

“Shawn was the type of person who was everybody’s best friend. He also was someone who was always on the go, always doing something and that was just simply his nature,” said Patrick Nassaney.

Shawn Nassaney and his girlfriend Lynn Goodchild were heading on vacation to Hawaii when their plane, which was planning to make a stop in Los Angeles, was one of the planes hijacked and flown into one of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.

Their plane was the second one to crash, hitting the south tower.

“Thinking back on it, you would think that it was a vivid memory but not necessarily so because it was such a blur. First, the lack of belief that it couldn’t be happening. Then, the emotions of what had happened.”

Nassaney and his wife, who now live in Millville, were living in Southbridge at the time. When they heard the news, the couple raced to Pawtucket where their older two sons were living.

“Their flight left about 8:30 in the morning and they were leaving out of Boston, going to the west coast. So when we first heard of the towers being struck, we said well, they weren’t going to New York. They were heading west. But obviously, who would have thought, you know, they would have been hijacked and turned the plane around.”

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Shawn and Lynn had met while studying at Bryant and were working towards getting their master’s degree at Providence College before their lives were cut short.

“In fact, they were taking the same classes together, so they were studying together. They were true soulmates. They complimented each other perfectly.”

In 2012, a bridge connecting Attleboro and Pawtucket was officially dedicated in the couple’s names. Shawn grew up in Pawtucket and Lynn grew up in Attleboro, and that bridge connected them as a couple.

“I’m sure Shawn and Lynn traveled that route many times,” said Nassaney.

The family now fills their time planning an annual race every September in Shawn’s name. He loved to run, his dad said, and it’s what brings memories flooding back. This year, the event falls on September 11.

“Sometimes there’s triggers in life. Like for me, Shawn was a runner, was an avid runner, and every time I see a group running, it’s a trigger that automatically brings back to Shawn. Frequently the triggers will bring a smile on my face, and other triggers just bring on emotions.”

When asked if he can believe that it’s been 20 years, Nassaney replied ‘no’. He said if there’s one thing people should remember on the 20th anniversary, it’s the heroes who helped in New York City the days, weeks, and months following the attacks.

“I think that will go down, in my mind, should go down in history as one of the bravest moments of this country because a lot of them paid a price for going to ground zero, you know, health-wise and emotionally.

“If Shawn was here and he was sending messages, he would say carpe diem, seize the day, and enjoy every day because you don’t know what’s in store for you.”

© WLNE-TV 2021

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island