Missed the Flight by a 20-Minute Delay; 20 Years After 9/11, Chehalis Woman Recalls Experience


The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Cindy Godsey stood in her living room and watched her missed flight on TV.

Godsey, a 1973 W.F. West graduate, worked as a flight attendant with a home in Washington and a rental in Boston.

On the night of Sept. 10, 2001, she was scheduled to arrive in Boston, stay grounded at her rental for 12 hours — per  company policy — and board United Airlines Flight 175 to Los Angeles the next morning.

But Chicago weather delayed her evening arrival by 20 minutes, and because of the 12-hour policy, she was moved to a later flight.

The flight she was originally scheduled to take was hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

All passengers and crew members, Godsey’s co-workers, were killed.

Though she watched the plane crash from over 200 miles away, the grief struck right in her heart. According to previous reporting in The Chronicle, Godsey originally turned down an interview a year after 2001, saying her emotions were still too raw. In 2006, Chronicle journalist Carrina Stanton wrote a comprehensive story of Godsey’s experience, which can be found at chronline.com.

Even 20 years later, the anniversary is still challenging, Godsey said this week.

“I do want to get back to where the towers were and what they've built. I have not done that yet. At some point I will go back there. At times, I think I'm going to do it. I don't know that I'm ready,” she said. “There are some people that say, ‘Well, you know, it's been like 10, 15 years.’ And yeah, I understand that. But when you're that close to you actually almost being in it, it's just … some years are easier than others.”

She believes God had a hand in her narrow avoidance of death two decades ago. In 2000, her mother’s mother-in-law and Godsey’s father died within three weeks of one another.

“God wasn't just looking after me, he was looking after my mom,” she said. “I just don't know that she could have handled that.”

Afterward, Godsey worked as a flight attendant for another year until moving home and becoming a secretary at Althauser, Rayan and Abbarno, a law firm in Centralia. She is still there, working as bookkeeper and office manager.

She has also been involved in the Miss Lewis County Scholarship Program since 1988, which she says is “not just a pageant … We have girls that say every time they applied for a job, they've gotten it because of their interview skills they learned in our program.”

And 9/11 will always be a part of her life story.

Every year on Sept. 11, she wears a pin commemorating the flight attendants who lost their lives.

But Godsey doesn’t just bring up her story whenever.

“I really want people to remember those that actually lost their lives. I mean, yes, I know that I was very close to that, but I didn't,” she said. “Not just the flight attendants and the pilots, but all of the first responders and the people in the towers and if they want to talk about 9/11, those are the ones that they need to talk about. They don't need to talk about me.”