LOCAL NEWS

Utah Woman Remembers Cousin, A First Responder, Killed On 9/11

Sep 12, 2018, 8:54 AM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One of our colleagues at KSL NewsRadio discovered several days after the Twin Towers fell that she had lost her cousin, a New York firefighter and a 9/11 first responder.

She said her emotions may have changed over the years, but she still feels a powerful connection to that historic day.

“I had woken up after the first plane had already had the north tower,” said Heather Kelly McShane.

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Heather Kelly McShane was getting ready for work at a veterinary clinic. That was a few years before she became radio reporter at KSL NewsRadio.

She thought her cousin, 37-year-old firefighter Terence McShane, was working at his station in Queens that day. It was a good distance from the World Trade Center.

“It really just didn’t occur to me that he was there right at that moment,” Heather said.

A first responder

Terence wasn’t in Queens, though. He was there in the North Tower with New York Fire Department Ladder 101 as part of a transfer program.

Terence was working at a different station that day when he ran into the north tower to save lives and ended up sacrificing his own.

“So, his unit was one of the first responders into the north tower,” Heather said.

First responder Terence McShane was killed during the 9/11 terror attacks.

From what the family understands, Heather believes her cousin was helping people find their way out of the building. He may have even been a first responder among a group of firefighters that were spotted by witnesses in the building.

“They just saw dozens of firefighters taking a break on the 19th floor,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s where Terence was. We don’t know. The family just doesn’t know where he was. But, they did recover his remains four weeks after.”

Heather didn’t get the news until four days after her cousin was killed.

“It’s almost like reliving the first day,” she said. “I became obsessed with watching all of the images.”

She found herself trying to spot her cousin in video clips of firefighters from that day. Although, she knows few media cameras were there when her cousin went into the tower.

Finding Terence

“He was funny, and he loved to laugh, and he was kind,” Heather said of her cousin.

Terence was a father of three young boys.

“He loved his kids,” she said.

McShane visited the 9/11 Memorial three years ago, trying to find her cousin’s name.

“It was an amazing afternoon,” she said.

Heather Kelly McShane's cousin, first responder Terence McShane, died on 9/11

KSL NewsRadio’s Heather Kelly McShane remembers her cousin Terence, a firefighter and first responder who died during the terror attacks of 9/11

It was very crowded when she arrived at the memorial. The crowd was stacked three or four people deep around the memorial where the names of the victims were etched in the walls. She said they had no idea how they were going to find her cousin’s name.

“As we approached one of the walls, 300 people… it was almost like a sea parting,” she said. “Right in the middle was a white rose.”

They moved closer as the crowd moved away.

“The rose was sitting on my cousin’s name,” she said. “To say that somebody had guided me there is an understatement. We hadn’t even started looking at names.”

She said it was as though she was supposed to be there.

“This shining light and corridor opened up for us to go and find his name,” she said.

It was a powerful and spiritual moment for her.

“It was very raw and emotional.”

17 years later

Each year around 9/11, Heather said she watches TV specials on the attacks and looks for video of her cousin, even though she knows it’s unlikely she will spot him.

“I scour all of the images, and I look for firefighters to see if I can see him,” she said

Heather said this 9/11 has been more emotional than others. She’s not sure why, but said it’s easier to revisit some of those raw emotions now that 17 years have passed.

“I’ve never quite delved into my emotions as much as I have this year,” she said. “So, it’s been extra special.”

Related: Utahns Remember Lives Lost on 9/11

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Utah Woman Remembers Cousin, A First Responder, Killed On 9/11