Nineteen years ago, the Reporter published its weekly paper on Sept. 13, 2001— two days after the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. One of the stories included an interview with a 33-year-old Clam Point native and St. Mark’s Road resident, Robert Corrigan, who was scheduled to be a passenger on United Airlines flight 175, the plane that crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Following is the story as we reported it in 2001.
A Clam Point man who was due to board a doomed United Airlines flight to Los Angeles Tuesday morning overslept and missed the flight by just minutes. Within an hour, the passenger jet was the second of two hijacked jets steered into the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan, killing everyone on board and possibly thousands in the buildings.
Had he made it to the gate on time, 33-year-old Robert Corrigan would have certainly been killed as well. The Park Street native – who now lives on Saint Mark’s Road – was ticketed for the flight, but says he reached the boarding gate just a few minutes after the plane pulled away from the jetway. He arrived too late to watch any of the passengers – including the presumed terrorists – board the plane.
Corrigan was waiting to fly stand-by on another flight to the West Coast when word first filtered out about the terrorist attacks in Manhattan.
A visibly shaken Corrigan spent much of Tuesday evening with tearful, but smiling friends and relatives who gathered outside his boyhood home on Park Street. Many had thought that Corrigan, who was scheduled to work at a trade show in San Diego this week, was on the plane. By late Tuesday afternoon, word spread through the tight-knit Clam Point community that one of their own might have been lost in the tragedy.
In fact, Corrigan was home by mid-morning watching the historic events unfold from his bed.
The reaction from everyone was pretty much the same, Corrigan says. “Just hugs. And ‘I’m gonna kill you!’” he says.
Despite the joyful reunions, the mood at the Corrigan home was largely somber on Tuesday night. As relatives worked the phones to pass word that he was alive, Corrigan’s thoughts kept returning to the scenes he watched on television throughout the afternoon.
“It’s just starting to sink in,” said Corrigan, who says he is “more concerned for the people in the planes and the towers” than for his own well-being.
Lifelong friends John Joyce, Jr., Bobby Shallow, and Paul Katapoutis said that they planned to take their buddy out for drinks at a favorite Dorchester Avenue bar later that night. “We’ve been calling him ‘dead man walking,’” said Joyce.
For his part, Corrigan plans to hold onto the historic memento that might have been his death sentence if he had moved things along a bit faster Tuesday morning: the actual ticket to that now tragic United flight.