9/11 Deaths Continue 14 Years Since Attacks

9/11 has taken yet another heroic soul 14 years and one month after the day of the attacks. The sad news reported by the New York Post on October 12 stated that on October 11, Retired Detective Ronald Richards passed away from a 9/11-related illness. In 2007, 45-year old Richards had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects plasma cells in the bone marrow. The diagnosis led to forcing the detective to retire in 2008.

When 9/11 occurred with the planes hitting the World Trade towers, Richards drove from Staten Island where he was based on Emergency Service Truck 5. Running to help, he found himself trapped with others inside a garage that had caved in from the explosions. After digging out, Richards was one of the many responders who worked tirelessly for months after at the site, as well as in the Staten Island landfill.

With the beyond horrible dust and stench that the workers endured during recovery efforts, there were questions about health safety. On September 4, 2001, Newsweek reported the indication that large amounts of asbestos made up much of the dust storm poured down on New York City on 9/11 and lingered since as responders continued to dig through. The article stated how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported significant positive air readings for noteworthy amounts of asbestos followed by an additional study by independent researchers. The independent researchers concluded that there was even more exposure to asbestos than stated by the EPA and “in a potentially more dangerous form.”

Fears of health-destroying particles in the air during the months of recovery efforts after 9/11 were confirmed when Judge Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan rules in a 2004 class action lawsuit. As per a New York Times article dated February 3, 2006, “The lawsuit was commissioned by those living in the downtown area of the city, as well as Brooklyn, stating that adults and children were ‘exposed to air contamination inside buildings near the trade center.'” Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA Chief during 9/11 was being sued as the former chief, as well as an individual, regarding statements that she had made leading the public to believe that the area was safe to work and live in.

The following was stated in the 2006 Times article.

“Mrs. Whitman knew that the towers’ destruction had released huge amounts of hazardous emissions, Judge Batts found. But as early as Sept. 13, Mrs. Whitman and the agency put out press releases saying that the air near ground zero was relatively safe and that there were “no significant levels” of asbestos dust in the air. They gave a green light for residents to return to their homes near the trade center site.”

In response to the responders and locals getting increasingly ill from what was perceived as results of 9/11, the World Trade Center Health Program was executed by the CDC. The program specifically helps to provide “medical monitoring” and aid as well as information to responders and survivors that were at all of the attacked sites including the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA.

In the long list of covered Cancers by the WTC Health Program is listed multiple myeloma, the cancer that took the life of retired Detective Ronald Richards. In February 2002, Richards was given a transfer to the bomb squad and at a later date promoted to second grade. The latest 9/11 casualty leaves behind a loving family including his wife of 17 years, along four daughters ages 8-years-old to 17, and his parents.

According to a recent USA Today September 9, 2015 article, there seems to be no end in sight for the 9/11 death toll, noting that people seeking compensation in 2015 was up by more than 4,000 since the year before. The report states that as of September 6, 2015, almost 21,000 people filed claims with the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund for eligibility to be reimbursed for medical related bills and expenses. May these victims and their loved ones not of suffered in vain as the world continues to mourn and vow to never forget 9/11.

[Feature Image by Eric Thayer/ Getty Images]