Georgetown family marks 20 years since 9/11 attacks, the same day they became family

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ)- You probably remember where you were on September 11th. It’s a generation’s defining moment.

On the five year anniversary of the terror attacks, ABC 36 spoke to a Central Kentucky family expecting September 11, 2001 to be their happiest day. It ended up also being one of the scariest.

Connie Pierson came to Eastern Europe in September, 2001 to bring her daughte, Ally, home to Georgetown.

Ally was just three when Connie and her husband, Gregg, adopted her from Ukraine.

The morning of September 11th, 2001, Connie and Ally boarded a flight, one of three on the journey home, but somewhere in the sky between Amsterdam and Detroit, excitement turned to fear when the pilot announced the plane would be detouring.

“I could hear some of the people talking about, ‘Wow, is it storming?'” Pierson said.

Eventually, the plane landed in Toronto and the passengers got their answer.

The pilot announced the country was under attack.

Connie says the woman behind her wept. People talked loudly on phones, trying to figure out what had happened. It was controlled chaos.

“It was terrifying and, my thoughts, I kept looking at ally and thinking, ‘I’m so sorry I’m bringing you home to this,'” Pierson said.

Donnie, then the new mom of a three-year-old who only spoke Russian, says the plane was stuck on the tarmac for three hours before passengers could finally get off.

Meanwhile, Gregg spent the day in Kentucky, anxiously trying to find his family.
Remember, a lot of us didn’t have cell phones then. We certainly couldn’t text in flight.

“You know which way do I turn? What do I do now?” Pierson said.

An automated call confirmed the plane landed in Toronto, but hours went by and he hadn’t heard anything.

“At 3 o’clock i was getting a little nervous. I thought she should’ve made contact. 4 o’clock, I was almost panicked,” Pierson said.

Thankfully, Connie and Ally were okay, eventually bused to Detroit.

Gregg drove six hours overnight to find them without even really knowing where they were.

“Oh my gosh. I was just so happy to hear that knock at the door that morning and he came in and we woke Ally up and it was like, ‘Look, Ally! Daddy came to get us. We can go home now,’ and at that point, when I saw him, I felt safe,” Pierson said.

It was years before Connie opted to fly again. Her first trips were to Siberia to bring home her son, Scott.

“It still concerns me for our country, not knowing when something like that could happen again, in that respect, but on the other hand, it was one of the best days of our lives,” Connie Pierson said.

Ally is a 23-year-old now, a pre-school teacher with no memories of the actual day, just of the stories her parents have told her.

“It is how our family started and that even on the dark days there is a bright side,” Ally Pierson said.

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