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Honoring the Fifteenth Anniversary of Detective James Zadroga’s Passing

January 18, 2020 | escapehatch

This January marks the fifteenth anniversary of the death of NYPD Detective James Zadroga, a 9/11 hero and a Barasch & McGarry client.

Zadroga tragically died of respiratory and digestive disease. But his death and autopsy were the evidence Congress needed to  demonstrate the deadly health consequences of exposure to Ground Zero toxins. Zadroga’s death was a crucial part of the campaign to secure health care and compensation for hundreds of thousands of 9/11 first responders and survivors.

A native of North Arlington, New Jersey, he joined the NYPD in 1992, and quickly moved through the ranks, earning a detective’s badge.

Like thousands of other first responders, Detective Zadroga’s life changed forever on September 11, 2001. He was deployed to Ground Zero to join the search-and-rescue and recovery efforts, ultimately working at the site for hundreds of hours.

And, like other first responders, Detective Zadroga was told by the E.P. A. that the air at Ground Zero was safe to breathe. Neither he nor his colleagues were provided with adequate equipment to protect their lungs and general health.

We now know the air in Lower Manhattan was not safe. Instead, it was filled with airborne toxins including pulverized glass and concrete, jet fuel, asbestos, and other harmful chemicals.

Only a few weeks after leaving Ground Zero, the previously healthy Detective Zadroga began experiencing serious health problems. 

A non-smoker in his early thirties, with no history of respiratory disease, Detective Zadroga developed a persistent cough. Soon he became short of breath, unable to walk more than 100 feet without gasping for air.

Detective Zadroga died at 34-years-of-age. An autopsy found severe scarring in his lungs, as well as toxic Ground Zero dust.

His death became a rally cry for the 9/11 community, resulting in the enactment of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010, which offered desperately-needed support for 9/11 victims and their families.

Detective James Zadroga’s heroism and commitment to the men and women who served at Ground Zero continues to inspire the entire 9/11 community. We will never forget his invaluable contributions. We are honored to have been able to represent his family and secure for them the compensation they deserved.

Please contact us if you have any questions about the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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