Vancouver Canucks' Chris Higgins still thankful 9/11 attacks didn't take his father's life
Robert Higgins of the New York Fire Department was part of first responders team
VANCOUVER — Whenever Sept. 11 comes around, Vancouver Canuck forward Chris Higgins shudders to think what might have been.
His father Robert was a member of the New York City fire department and among those who responded to the terrorist attacks and destruction of the twin towers in Lower Manhattan. Chris, 18, and a freshman at Yale University that year, recalled Tuesday frantically trying to reach home to see if his dad was OK.
“I couldn’t get through for a really long time,” Chris said. “It was just a bad couple of hours trying to find out. Finally, I was able to talk to my uncle, who worked kind of near that area, and I found out he was OK and that my dad was OK, too. It was obviously a pretty surreal experience.”
Chris was on the Yale campus when the attacks came and he wasn’t quite aware of their magnitude for the first few moments. Then the word spread.
“I was in a freshman dorm and you kind of got the sense that something was going on,” he said. “No one was going to classes and everyone was, I don’t know, not acting normal. I went back to my room and my roommates had the TV on. I thought it was a movie.”
As a youngster, Chris never imagined his dad not coming home from work and the 9/11 attacks brought to him the reality that life is very fragile. His dad, now a captain, is still with the NYFD. Robert Higgins is in his 35th year fighting fires.
“I guess when you grow up with your dad doing that job for your whole life, you kind of just except him to come home,” explained Chris, a native New Yorker. “You think he’s invincible. But events like that really put things in perspective a little bit.
"Once I found out he was OK that day, I just stayed at school. It was, like, well I guess this is his job so let’s get back to business as usual.”
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