Firefighter Kevin Shea -wedding News
Asks Why He, Alone, Survived . . . and Why He Remembers So Little
By TINA KELLEY
Shortly after the first tower fell, Kevin Shea, an off-duty
firefighter, was found on West Street, with a broken neck, severed
thumb, internal injuries, and very little memory of what he had done as
the buildings burned. His amnesia caused him anguish, especially
because the 12 other firefighters who raced to the World Trade Center
from his fire company that morning never came back. Had he gone into
the building with them? Why was he alone spared?
A year later, Mr. Shea is back on light duty, working full time for the
department's Hazardous Materials Operations unit. "What I'm trying to
do is prep the guys for the next one, which is expected," he said. He
no longer needs a neck brace; one of his doctors thinks he might return
to full duty in six months.
The job helps him heal, as does his work with the Fallen Brothers
Foundation, which he founded with his brother, Brian, another
Begun before Sept. 11, 2001, the group raises money for
the families of fallen firefighters. "I'm coping," Kevin Shea said.
"The way I cope is by doing."
The missing parts of that day are coming into focus. He found some
comfort in hearing from another firefighter, Joe Falco, that he had
been putting out car fires shortly after arriving downtown. That
answers part of the question of what he did. "I'm still a little bit
obsessed about it, but it doesn't overwhelm me," he said. "Every other
day I basically say, `Is this what possibly could've happened?' If it
doesn't come, I don't push it. I'm not creasing my forehead saying `ooh
can something come out.' "
"When Joe Falco told me what I was doing, I saw I was helping people
out. I wasn't just sitting around, hanging out," he said. "I was
Shortly after he got out of the hospital, Mr. Shea, 35, met Stacy Hope
Herman, a documentary producer. She trailed him as he went to various
doctors' appointments. Before the end of the week, he felt certain he
would marry her, but decided to give it six months. He went back to
West Street to propose to her. Recalling the various people who said
they had rescued him — a man with an "S" tattooed on his chest, a
photographer, an ambulance driver — "I told her, `But honey, you're the
one who rescued me. There's only one person who rescued me, and that
person is you.' "
The wedding is scheduled for Sept. 29.