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September 10, 2008

7 years later, victim's family stuck in time

NEWBURYPORT — Seven years ago feels like a long time for most. Tom Pecorelli's son Nicolas hadn't yet been born. This week, he entered the first grade.

On Sept. 11, 2001, life changed for all Americans. But like so many other families who lost someone on that day, in many ways time stopped for the Pecorellis. Time does not heal all wounds.

"It's an everyday part of life," said Angela Veltsos, Tom Pecorelli's sister. "I know a lot of people moved on, but for us, we're all stuck in the moment. I can't pick up my feet and move on."

By now, Tom Pecorelli's story is familiar to many in his hometown. A Clipper City native and 1988 graduate of Newburyport High School, Pecorelli's love of videography took him to Los Angeles. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, after a visit home for a wedding, the handsome 30-year-old husband and father-to-be boarded American Airlines Flight 11, with a sonogram of his unborn son in his bag, set to return home to his wife, Kia, and his job at Fox Sports Net.

The rest of the story is etched in the country's history. His plane, which also carried Amesbury's Robert Hayes and Rowley's James and Mary Trentini, was the first to hit the World Trade Center.

Your life changed. The Pecorellis' life was shattered. And in their grief, they've struggled to restart their old lives.

Tom's wife, Kia Pavloff-Pecorelli, still lives in Topanga, Calif., but hasn't remarried. Nicolas, who never knew his father, is "intelligent and handsome ... he's his father's son for sure," Veltsos said.

His mother, Eileen Dyer, struggles to speak about her son without crying, Veltsos said. His father, Natale, thinks of Tom every day, but rarely speaks of him.

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