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NYPD chief who was a first responder at 9/11 dies from rare form of blood cancer linked to Ground Zero

  • Steven Bonano, 53, was commander of the NYPD’s elite Emergency Service Unit at the time of the attack
  • He died on Saturday from a rare form of blood cancer
  • Believed to have contracted it as a result of inhaling toxic materials while participating in rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center
  • More than 900 first responders have died from ailments blamed on their service at Ground Zero

By

David Mccormack for MailOnline


Published:
22:33 EST, 18 January 2015

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Updated:
23:48 EST, 18 January 2015

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An NYPD chief who was a first responder at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attack has died from a rare form of blood cancer believed to be linked to the incident.

Steven Bonano, 53, died on Saturday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center surrounded by friends and family, officials said.

A 30-year veteran of the force, Bonano was commander of the NYPD’s elite Emergency Service Unit at the time of the attack.

Steven Bonano, 53, was commander of the NYPD’s elite Emergency Service Unit at the time of the attack. He died on Saturday from a rare form of blood cancer linked to inhaling toxic materials

Steven Bonano, 53, was commander of the NYPD’s elite Emergency Service Unit at the time of the attack. He died on Saturday from a rare form of blood cancer linked to inhaling toxic materials

It is believed he may have contracted cancer as a result of inhaling toxic materials while he participated in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site in the weeks following the terrorist attacks.

The NYPD declined to say whether his cancer was linked to the site. 

More than 900 first responders have died of ailments blamed on their service at Ground Zero, officials say.

‘He loved the police department, it was his life,’ a colleague told the New York Post. 

‘He was a cop’s cop. He was my mentor. He was always looking for us to do better. He always did better for himself. He accomplished so much.’

During his time with the NYPD, Bonano was awarded the Police Combat Cross, the department’s second highest medal, earned his pilot’s license and a Master’s degree from Harvard University.

Bonano is believed to have contracted cancer as a result of inhaling toxic materials while he participated in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site in the weeks following the terrorist attacks

Bonano is believed to have contracted cancer as a result of inhaling toxic materials while he participated in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site in the weeks following the terrorist attacks

‘Bonano was a true leader not because of rank but because of the man he was,’ said Dennis Gonzalez of the NYPD Hispanic Society, which Bonano was a member of. 

‘Those who knew him as a police officer knew he was destined for greatness.’

In 2012, the Bronx-born cop had become the head of security at the Barclays Center venue in Brooklyn, which hosted a bone-marrow registry in 2013 to help prolong his life. 

Cancer among 9/11 responders is 15 percent higher than among people not exposed to the Ground Zero toxins, a recent study by Mount Sinai Medical Center’s World Trade Center Health Program found.

The increase was seen primarily in three types of the disease, including blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.

More than 900 first responders have died of ailments blamed on their service at Ground Zero, officials say.

 

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