Channel Surfing
by Laura Nachman


For Lower Makefield’s Diego Castellanos of 6ABC’s “Puerto Rican Panorama” the horrific events of Tuesday hit home literally, as his next-door neighbor and friend, Victor J. Saracini, was the pilot of United Airlines flight 175, which was hijacked and crashed into World Trade Center 2. 

The families, which have been friends for years, unknowingly spent their last night together on Saturday, when Saracini and his wife, Ellen, had dinner at the Castellanos home. After dinner, Victor and Diego played guitars together. Then, 13-year-old Felicia Castellanos slept over her best friend, fellow eighth grader Kirsten Saracini’s house that night.

Castellanos said “my wife (Pam) and I are personally devastated by this tragedy – and very angry.  Castellanos, who is licensed to pilot a single engine plane said of 16-year United Airlines veteran, Saracini,  “I was in awe of the man, yet he was so unassuming, he never talked about his work.  Whenever we got together, we talked about our kids.  He was just a kind human being, a talented man, and a funny guy who kept everybody laughing whenever we got together.  Victor was a good father, a good husband, and a good friend.  He didn't deserve to end up like this.  Then again, none of those people who were murdered deserved that.  Their only crime was that they went to work.”

Support is coming from a network of friends and neighbors and some relatives.  Pennwood Middle School and Quarry Hill Elementary, where the Saracini daughters Kirsten (8th grade) and Brielle (5th grade) attend, have both provided counseling for students and providing a safe haven and supportive environment.  There are several pilots who live in their neighborhood and they have created a support system for the family. 

The local television stations are doing their part for the cause.   NBC 10 and Wawa markets are sponsoring a drive where Wawa will match any donation up to $100,000.  NBC 10 also has a mental health line in place to take phone calls.  WB17 has a disaster relief fund and KYW-3 and the Salvation Army have launched “Operation: Brotherly Love” to collect supplies and funds to support the relief workers aiding the victims of the World Trade Center disaster.