Ten Years Later, Veteran NY1 Anchor/Reporter Kristen Shaughnessy Describes the ‘Horrible Stuff’ of 9/11

It was a sunny late summer morning—64 degrees and not a cloud in the Manhattan sky on September 11, 2001.

We continue our unprecedented look back at 9/11: New York Remembers with a pair of NY1 reporters—Kristen Shaughnessy and Amanda Farinacci.

With it being primary day in New York, Shaughnessy, NY1 weekend anchor since 1995, was positioned in Brooklyn at the time (8:46 a.m.) of the first strike on the World Trade Center towers.

She thought it was incredulous, if not impossible, when the newsroom alerted her about the breaking news.

Shaughnessy and her live truck operator broke down the gear and headed for the Brooklyn Bridge, which was already closed, save for emergency vehicles. Fortunately, Shaughnessy had built a friendship with some of the firefighters.

“Follow us,” she was told. “So we were the only two vehicles on the bridge.”

As the second plane already hit the other building, they pulled over at City Hall and Shaughnessy continued on by foot to the towers.

“That’s when you saw everything,” Shaughnessy recalls. “You saw people jumping, just horrible stuff.”

While speaking with a couple of fire officials, Shaughnessy was told that “she needed to get out of here.”

“It was interesting. It was a look—I don’t know whether it was fear or what, because I guess they didn’t know what was going to happen,” Shaughnessy tells FishbowlNY.

In the next 90 minutes, the twin towers would become a giant pile of rubble.

Shaughnessy did eventually heed the advice and left the scene before the ultimate destruction. She found a pay phone (as there was no cellular service) and called into the NY1 coverage anchored by Pat Kiernan.

The phone was just a block away from the World Trade Center, on a street that was cordoned off.

“I didn’t know how much I should say that I saw, because some of it was very graphic,” Shaughnessy admits. “You’re just kind of weighing that as a journalist.”

During the call, Shaughnessy was providing live commentary as the first tower collapsed (See the video below).

“Oh, It’s just coming down, Pat,” Shaughnessy told viewers. “It is just coming down!”

Once again, Shaughnessy was ordered to get out of the area. This time, the many components from the tower’s dismantling formed a thick, toxic cloud, racing down the street.

But first, Shaughnessy had a split-second thought.

“I should run, but, I’m thinking in my head, do they understand why I would run?” Shaughnessy recalls. “Am I going to get in trouble for dropping the phone while I’m live?”

Before wasting much time, she ran away from the World Trade Center, eventually catching up to the masses of people.

Shaughnessy’s brief report as the tower tumbled has become a useful tool for some college journalism courses.

On the move, Shaughnessy made the trek to the East Side where triages were set up.

“But nobody was there,” Shaughnessy reflects.

She attempted to do another live report at a pay phone between the courts and City Hall.

“I think at that point was I was so panicked, I don’t know if I made any sense,” Shaughnessy admits.  

Her next report would not be until she returned to the NY1 studios around 5 or 6 p.m.

Throughout her hellish day, Shaughnessy’s memories are scattered.

“Some of the things are foggy, as to what happened, like in the afternoon hours when I was sort of wandering, trying to find my way back,” Shaughnessy remembers. “Some of it, like right when I got to the towers, it’s like it happened yesterday. The smells and the sights—it comes right back.”

NY1 Reporter Amanda Farinacci Affected by 9/11 With Family of Firefighters