Shanksville-Stonycreek High School Students Recall 9/11 Crash

Shanksville graduates share recollections of 9/11 crash

By Mary Pickels
Sunday, April 4, 2010
About the writer Mary Pickels is a Tribune-review staff writer and can be reached at 724-836-5401 or via e-mail.


On Sept. 11, 2001, Rebecca Shaffer and her freshmen classmates at Shanksville-Stonycreek High School watched on television as three airplanes, hijacked by terrorists, crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.

Then broadcasters reported a plane flying over Southwestern Pennsylvania.

And the building shook.

"There was a fireball and flames above the tree line," said Shaffer, 23.

Some students hid under their desks. Others ran for the door.

"There was some panic, yelling and screaming," Shaffer said. "Then silence fell as we all turned and looked out the window. It was an eerie silence. People started to cry."

The students would later learn that United Flight 93, the fourth plane to be hijacked that morning, had crashed in a field not far from the school.

Officials say the hijackers intended to fly the airplane into a target in Washington, but some passengers and members of the crew fought back and forced the plane down in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County. Everyone aboard was killed.

The students said the crash rocked the sense of security in the small community of Shanksville, where all of the school district's 500 students attend classes in a single building.

In August, Shaffer and eight other students -- Joseph Skrinjorich, Amanda Duppstadt, Amanda Enos, Matthew Long, Jacob Miller, Brendon Noll, Laura Stutzman and Seth Walker -- representing the classes of 2002-05, gathered in their old high school to share memories of that day for a documentary.

Since 2005, Flight 93 National Memorial curator Barbara Black and oral history project assistant Kathie Shaffer, Rebecca's mother, have recorded more than 530 oral histories. Relatives and friends of the passengers and crew, first responders, eyewitnesses, residents and members of the media have told their stories.

Rebecca Shaffer's parents have been involved with Flight 93 since the crash. Her mother, a registered nurse and a member of the Flight 93 Task Force, served on the archive committee and as a volunteer ambassador at the temporary memorial. Her father, Terry Shaffer, is chief of the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department.

Rebecca Shaffer said she wondered that morning if her father was at the crash scene.

Shaffer recalled strangers and vehicles crowding Shanksville.

But "we didn't really look at them like strangers," she said. "They were there to help."

Shaffer has since graduated from Point Park University and works with AmeriCorps and for WQED in Pittsburgh.

She said she typically gets the same reaction from people they learn where she's from.

"Everyone wants to know where you were and what you were doing," she said. "That is not who I am. It's something that happened to our town.

"I don't mean any disrespect to the families of Flight 93," Shaffer said. "But before this all happened, it was still my hometown, still where we all grew up."

Joseph Skrinjorich, 24, a sophomore at Shanksville-Stonycreek on Sept. 11, is a student at Community College of Allegheny County and a member of the Army National Guard.

"We were still young at the time," he said in the video. "We didn't really know much about what was outside of this world that we had, here in these classrooms, so I remember having the same feelings of 'What's going on? This isn't safe anymore. We're supposed to be invincible.'"

Skrinjorich sang with a church choir at the first memorial for Flight 93.

"I've taken friends from college up to the crash site," he said.

Skrinjorich, who always intended to enter the military, said 9/11 reinforced that decision.

"It's not something I think a lot about any more," he said. "If I'm ever asked about it, I have no problem bringing up memories from that day."
Throughout the video, the young adults described the day the world turned its focus on their town.

Enos recalled hearing over the school's public address system that a plane had crashed in Somerset County.

"They said about it being in the old PBS strip mine," she said. "I just kind of started to freak out because that was in my grandma's backyard, and that was the only thing I could think of."

"You look at the world differently," Duppstadt said. "You do think it was only two or three seconds away from you. It could have changed your life forever if it was closer."

Long said he was overcome with feelings of, "This can't be happening here. This is America. This happens in other places. We're untouchable. And just that sense of security kind of being rocked."

Richard Snodgrass, owner of Snodgrass Industries in Pittsburgh, filmed the video.

"It was obvious they really wanted to get to telling their story," Snodgrass said. "It just sort of brimmed out of them. Each one had something particular about that experience that really lodged in their minds."

The school "was directly in the path," Snodgrass said. "With that load of fuel ... it would have wiped out an entire community's children."

The video, financed by a National Park Service grant through the support of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and the Popplestone Foundation, is available at

Pure propaganda

The video is pure propaganda. To start with, there is absolutely no way that UAL 93 hit the ground in one piece at the location where we are told it did. There is an extensive witness record contradicting the claim. We are expected to believe the entire plane burrowed into the ground with the exception of the engine which just happened to bounce a quarter mile and land in a pond. Not only that, according to what Nevin Lambert told me at the memorial site, there were pieces of the plane scattered over 12 miles. There are news reports of debris landing as far away as New Baltimore.

There was no visible wreckage at the "crash site" as recorded in photographs taken only minutes after the crater was created. There is good reason to believe that an A-10 was at the location of the crater when it was created. All indications are that the plane was shot down.

pure propaganda is right

why is this taking up space?

it is here because this propaganda exists

Herblay FRANCE

bonjour ,
it is here because this propaganda exists and we have to explain it to people who are going to be had by it.

Yours John


Indeed. It is important to keep track of how the OTC is being hawked. I did not intend, in any way, to criticize the person who blogged this.

I will observe that a collage of statements of this nature can be cobbled together to give the appearance of supporting a view not shared by the people interviewed.

I just goes

to show you how brain washed these kids are. Well that's our public school system is. Get them while they are young and gullible and you can get them to believe the moon is made of green cheese. Sad but true.

The bloodied shirt of 9-11-01 waves yet again. UGH!

It's possible that a missile could penetrate the ground. Apparently they heard rumbles. But, it is of course an attempt to justify the oh-fishy-all story.

Heck it's 9-11-01 every day in the middle east, compliments of the USA, and we think our one day of tragedy supersedes everyone else's?


A good example of the Stockholm Syndrome as well.

The Empty hole that is Shanksville, P.A.

My only thought on this issue is this -

Since the morning of 911, the video tape(s) of Shanksville have "never" been played on or by, the MSM.


Because there's no jet there and if they play the video people will be begin to understand that; all there is is a (what) 10 x 15 ft. crater.

Where is the 100 tons of debris that should be there?
Where are the bodies?
Why was the jet fuel incapable of lighting so much as a twig on fire, as it crashed into an empty field next to a forest?
Why was the grass surrounding the hole, completely un-singed or burned, in any manner?

Odd that jet fuel can cause office towers to burn and disintegrate in less then 60 and 90 minutes (respectively), yet...when it crashes into or next to things made of wood....a forest in this cannot start a fire. I just find that odd. To be blunt, I find it impossible and subsequently, I don't believe "their story".

The official "story" of 911 is - dead.

911 Was "Another" Inside Job!

Here's a little music video I did on the subject - enjoy.

Awesome Video!!

Thankyou Suspicious Patriot

I was deeply moved by your music and truth - telling. We need more artists to say what can't be said in mere words! I also would love to have more discussions on Shanksville and Flight 93, even a book covering just that. David Ray Griffin???
Keep sharing your songs, we all need it!

Thank You

Lillyann -

Thank you very much for your kind words; they were/are greatly appreciated.



The official "story" of 911 is - dead!

911 Was "Another" Inside Job!

also let's not forget

how the movie United 93 reinforced so much the official lie... It was aired here in Canada recently. An incredible amount of people regarded this movie as an "almost" documentary, never, ever, asking themselves if it could be possible that the facts were not entirely true. No critics ever questioned the content of the movie when it came out. It was praised and the comments on IMDB, if they're all from regular folks, give us a sad and almost scary picture of how you can easily manipulate public perception.
Movies are very powerful weapons of brainwash...

I even consider The Hurt Locker as a big propaganda movie. With two Oscars for best movie and best director, we can only say that the propaganda reached a huge audience. Was it really worth those Oscars?...

But I disgress...sorry

Something else

Something else that will always bother me about 'United '93' is the fact that I thought the director's previous film, 'Bloody Sunday' (2002)--about British crimes in Ireland in the early '70s--was excellent, something which I would recommend to anybody. And which absolutely did have a documentary 'feel.'

If there's one thing I hate worse than propaganda, it's seeing bona fide talent being prostituted in the service of propaganda.

Oliver Stone used to make good, critical films too

... then he made World Trade Center and W. Who got to Ollie and why did he sell-out?

Do we know any people there who will stand up and tell the truth

I f we can get ONE local to trespass with us big city outsiders looking for evidence of explosives, It would hold together. Don't look down your nose at how small town folk feel preyed upon by cosmopolitan types.

Not propaganda

I really think the above comments callling this video "propaganda" are unfair. These young people are just describing what they experienced on 9/11 with courageous honesty. Understandably, since they were only children at the time, it must have been terrifying and upsetting for them to hear and feel an explosion, and see smoke outside their school, at a time when they knew America was under attack, regardless of what actually caused that explosion.

The moving firsthand accounts of witnesses and victims of the attacks, like these young people, are one of the things that motivates me to keep researching 9/11 and seeking out the truth of what happened that day. So please, let's all treat these people with the decency and respect they deserve.


The one kid says something like " I used to think we were invincible" most of the comments reinforce the idea of a terror threat where even here in the US we are not safe. Even in a small town like Shanksville you and your grandma are not save etc. It's not that the kids comments are propaganda it's the presentation and exploitation of what they say into a terror message, that's the propaganda.

Shanksville Truth

The smoking gun "flyover" in Shanksville is the plane flying over Indian Lake.

It's hard to make a quick synopsis of what happened in Shanksville. However, it is very important to understand right off the bat that this event wasn't "botched," but was as meticulously crafted in advance like the world trade center and the pentagon.

Major kudos to Domenick DiMaggio for singlehandedly conducting this investigation.