SHANKSVILLE (KDKA) — News of Osama bin Laden’s death is resonating around the country, especially for the first responders in Somerset County.
On Sept. 11, 2001, United Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, killing all 40 passengers and crew onboard.
It’s a scene Shanksville Fire Volunteer Chief Terry Schaffer will never forget.
“I think it’s something that we’ve lived with here for 10 years now,” he said. “You never not have a day that you haven’t thought about the plane crash.”
Schaffer was one of the first emergency responders at the scene. His department spent three long weeks aiding with recovery efforts at the scene, an exhausting time both physically and emotionally.
His reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death is mixed.
“I’m glad to see that they finally found him, a little cautious as to what could possibly happen as a result of that, but I’m glad because I’ve seen how much sorrow that he’s brought to the families of the people that were killed,” Schaffer said.
It’s a sentiment echoed by the former Somerset Volunteer Fire Department Chief Gary Thomas. As he watches the permanent Flight 93 memorial prepare to open this fall, his reaction to Bin Laden’s death is cautious optimism.
“The first responders, I think, being out there, I’m worried more now what the retaliation [is] going to be,” Thomas said. “He’s just one person.”