PROVIDENCE, RI – When terrorists crashed United flight 175 into the south tower of the World Trade Center practically nothing was left of the Boeing 767 or its passengers. But in the rubble, officials found a handful of credit cards bearing the name of Lynn Goodchild of Attleboro. Although they're only plastic, her mother, Ellen Goodchild, cherishes them. She touches them reverently during an interview in her Attleboro home.
"It's difficult sometimes when I see friends with their daughters and once in a while I feel like I have daughter envy. They would have certainly been married by now."
Lynn Goodchild, a dark eye-eyed beauty, and her boyfriend, Shawn Nassaney of Pawtucket, were on their way to Hawaii when they were killed on September 11, 2001. The couple met at Bryant University. Their week-long getaway was a last hurrah before they buckled down to graduate studies in business at Providence College. Lynn's father, Bill Goodchild, drove the couple to the airport that morning.
"So emotionally it was pretty rough on me. Once I figured out what was going on it wasn't good I can tell you."
At about the same time Goodchild returned to his Attleboro home, Patrick Nassaney, Shawn's father was headed into Boston for a business appointment.
"On the way to Boston I saw a lot of police cars with their sirens and flashers headed into Boston. And I mean a lot, not just one or two, but many."
He turned on his radio and learned that a plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. He assumed it was a small plane and besides, he reasoned, Shawn and Lynn were on their way to Los Angeles, not New York. But then he heard a second plane had crashed into the south tower and, like the rest of the world, knew it couldn't be a coincidence.
"And at one point or another I think that Margaret called me and said there was a possibility it could be Shawn."
He cancelled his appointment and headed home.
"As I'm pulling into the driveway we understood it was Shawn's plane that had hit the south tower. "
Bill Goodchild was home working when he became aware of the World Trade Center crashes. Of the four parents he was the only one who saw United 175 crashing into the south tower as it happened. It would be a couple of hours before he realized it was Lynn and Shawn's plane.
"Initially I felt like I'd been hit in the chest and I couldn't even take a deep breath. And it was like that for a few days. And I had this like metallic taste in my mouth which a counselor told us that's the fear of death."
His wife, Ellen, had been running errands that morning. Two hours after her daughter's plane crashed and most people knew it was United flight 175, she was in a bank making a deposit and spoke to some people on line.
"I said I'm sorry, I'm not usually this nervous it's just that my daughter left for LA this morning out of Boston and they went ahhhh.' And I hadn't heard anything on the radio and I said No, it's Ok. It's OK because her flight was 175. That was flight 11 that hit the building.' And they looked at me like I was out of my mind."
Shawn's mother, Margaret Nassaney, learned from her son, Ryan, that the worst had happened.
"And he says, 'Mom, you have to be strong. It was Shawn's plane.' He said 'It is confirmed that it is Shawn's plane.'"
The days that followed were a blur of grief, somewhat mitigated by sympathetic relatives and friends. Patrick Nassaney says it was a year before he realized the horrifying effect the attacks had on the entire nation.
"We were so involved in our own loss. We didn't read newspapers, didn't watch TV. It was literally a year later that I started looking at all the pictures, the TV commentaries, the film clips and realizing all the loss of the EMT's the fire departments. I was just so focused on our own loss," said Nassaney.
Lynn Goodchild was unusually close to her brother, Neil. In fact the two shared an apartment in Attleboro.
"I had a strange feeling even before I had confirmed it. I'm like 'Something's very wrong here. I have a terrible feeling about this.' I wouldn't say a psychic feeling but there was a deep feeling in my gut that this is not going to work out well."
While some of Lynn's remains and her slightly creased credit cards were found, nothing of Shawn Nassaney was ever returned to his parents. Both families expected the couple to marry some day. Weddings have become especially difficult for Margaret Nassaney.
"We were invited to many of his friends' weddings," said Margaret Nassaney "and it was bittersweet because it was great to see his friends happy but yet we know Shawn and Lynn would have been married and it was sad to not be able to see that happen."
The 9/11 commission concluded that the passengers on board flight 175 probably knew for 15 to 20 minutes the plane had been hijacked. Bill Goodchild finds it painful to imagine what his daughter went through in the last minutes of her life.
"I try not to dwell on that or think about it."
Shawn's father, Patrick Nassaney, doesn't go there either.
"I refuse to think about it. I can't imagine the terror on that plane."
Both families have assembled DVD's of their children's lives: pictures of Shawn graduating cum laude from Bryant, holding his infant nephew and at a family picnic ten days before his death; Lynn dressed up for Easter, having a facial with friends, dancing with Shawn at a family wedding. The videos are all the families have left of two bright young people with promising futures who died long before their time.
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