New York Post
Dec. 27, 2011


State court rules that 9/11 hero cop died from WTC-related cancer

By DAREH GREGORIAN

A hero cop who was injured at the Twin Towers on Sept. 11th died from World Trade Center-related cancer, a state appeals court ruled today .

The Appellate Division ruling means Frank Macri's widow is entitled to accidental line-of-duty death benefits - and he will be listed as having died in the line of duty, said the family's lawyers, Michael Murray and Christopher McGrath.

"I'm at a loss for words," his widow, Nilda Macri, told The Post. "Frank really deserves this honor. This was would've meant a lot to him to know he's still remembered. . . He was a special, special guy."

Macri was at the WTC on September 11th, and was injured when debris from one of the falling towers knocked him to the ground and cut up an arm, a leg and both corneas. He also "inhaled significant quantities of dust and smoke caused by the collapsing building," the ruling said.

None of that stopped Macri from joining in on rescue, recovery and cleanup operations after the attack. "He worked at Ground Zero until October 1, 2001, and at Fresh Kills Land Fill from November 1, 2001 to early January 2002," logging 350 hours at the sites, the ruling says.

In July of 2002, he started experiencing a sudden aching pain in his left thigh, and within weeks, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He started undergoing treatment, but within a year and a half, the fast moving disease had metastasized to his brain, liver and bones. He died on September 2, 2007 at the age of 52.

Nilda Macri said that when he died, she told their adult daughter that, "He's an angel the lord sent away, and now he needed him back."

The widow later applied for WTC accidental line-of-dute combat death benefits, which essentially pay three-quarters of the officer's salary tax-free, but the police pension medical board turned her down, finding the cancer had spread so quickly that he must have had it before Sept. 11.

The Macris countered with a letter from hsi oncologist, saying lung cancer was rare among young non-smokers, and it was "more reasonable than not" that the cancer was caused from breathing in high levels of carcinogenic substances during and after the terror attacks.

The medical board stuck to its guns, but their finding was overturned first by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jane Solomon, and now a four judge panel of the Appellate Division.

Nilda Macri said her husband of 24 years was devastated when he got too sick to work, because he loved being a cop. "It totally broke his heart," she said. "He loved helping people."

And despite how sick he got, Macri said her husband never expressed any regret about trying to help on September 11th. "He said he would not have done anything different that day," she said.

The widow thanked the police union for fighting for her husband, and expressed hope that her husband's case could help convince administrators of a 9/11 responders' fund to include cancer as a recognized illness.

"That would be huge," she said.