Joy, Then Tragedy

Sue Shaw was in her Providence, R.I., office early Tuesday morning when she heard the news of the attack on the World Trade Center. Her immediate concern was for her niece, 25-year-old Bethany LaBarre, who worked on the 29th floor of the south tower. When she spoke to LaBarre's mother Claire, she learned from her distraught sister that LaBarre had not yet called home.

That same fateful morning, Shaw's nephew on her husband's side, 25-year-old Shawn Nassaney, had departed Boston with his college sweetheart Lynn Goodchild on United Airlines Flight 175, bound for Los Angeles. Shaw hadn't even thought about her nephew being in danger, although her son Al, who shared a three-family house with Nassaney, had. At 9:30 a.m. Al called his mother, saying not to worry about Nassaney and Goodchild because they had flown on United Airlines. "On the news, they kept saying that it was two American Airlines planes that had hit the tower," says Shaw. LaBarre remained the family's primary concern until about 11 a.m. when Bethany, safely evacuated from the building, called her mother.

Their joy was not long-lived, however. A short time later, news reports confirmed that United Flight 175, the flight carrying Nassaney and Goodchild, had slammed into LaBarre's office tower. "In five or 10 minutes, it went from good news to the worst news," says Shaw's son, Al. Shaw immediately left her office to be with her family. "We're all just being very strong for each other, pulling together," says Shaw. LaBarre and Nassaney were only a month apart in age, she says, and have known each other since they were babies.

LaBarre had been in her office when the first plane slammed into the north tower at 8:48 a.m. "I heard the president of my firm screaming at all of us to get out of the building," she says. She and several coworkers ran outside, stepping over luggage, shoes and airplane seats and headed for the West Side Highway. That's when she saw the second plane hit her building. "It just flew right over our heads and we heard it crash in," she says. Later that afternoon LaBarre found out that Nassaney was on the plane. "I feel like it's a nightmare that hasn't ended," says LaBarre.

Join the Discussion