New York Daily News

November 12, 2015, 3:40 PM

  

 

Late NYPD cop’s father continues to push Zadroga Act after Congress let it lapse

BY DALE W. EISINGER, CORKY SIEMASZKO

JOE MARINO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Joseph Zadroga, whose son James died from a respiratory disease he contracted as a 9/11 first responder, stresses the need for his son’s namesake compensation bill’s extension.

The father of the dead NYPD cop whose name graces the Zadroga Act vowed Thursday to keep fighting to reauthorize the bill to help other Ground Zero heroes.

“Upon his grave, I made a promise that we would tell his story of what happened,” Joseph Zadroga said. “I don’t want to see other first responders going through what my son and his family went through.”

James Zadroga’s medical bills from fighting the respiratory disease he contracted at Ground Zero were so high his family “ate butter, sauce, and spaghetti for two weeks, so that their baby could have formula,” his father said. “Until he finally told me they were running out of money.”

Zadroga’s heartfelt push to get the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act reauthorized came after the GOP-controlled Congress allowed it to lapse.

JOE MARINO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
“They don't realize the human impact, they don't see it as a national issue,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, is pushing a new bill that waters down the original Zadroga legislation by offering less money for the Victim Compensation Fund. That weak bill also funds the 9/11 health care programs for only five years instead of permanently.

Rep. Pete King, a Long Island Republican who joined Zadroga at a volunteer ambulance company in Brooklyn, said his fellow party members just don’t get it.

“They don't realize the human impact, they don't see it as a national issue,” said King. “That's why it's important to put a human face on it. When they go to a 7-11 or a Little League game, they don’t see a guy with an oxygen tube."

JOE MARINO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Representatives from U.S. Congress, New York State Legislature and police union attended a press conference to call for a permanent reauthorization of the Zadroga Act.

 

Jacqueline Lopez, whose husband NYPD Lt. Luis Lopez died this year, said Zadroga bill opponents need to hear her story.

They need to hear how her husband’s lungs were so scarred he cried with every breath because it was so painful, she said.

“I took my husband off of life support and in front of my son, myself, and our families, we watched him take his last breaths,” she said. “He died at the age of 50 ... the months and months in the hospital left us with tens of thousands of dollars in bills.”

PBA President Pat Lynch said the department has lost “more New York City police officers since 9/11 than on 9/11.”

“We have a moral obligation to the men and women who responded without question that day,” he said. “We have a moral obligation to take care of them.”

csiemaszko@nydailynews.com