Search Site
NYC Chief Medical Examiner and WTC Responder Dies at 79

The New York Times recently reported that Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, New York City’s chief medical examiner from 1989 to 2013 and himself a victim of the 9/11 attacks, has died at the age of 79. The Chicago native, a forensic pathologist by training, was the selection committee’s unanimous choice to take over an office that had lost the public trust. But in meticulous service under four mayors, the fiercely independent professional brought respect back to the office. Dr. Hirsch seemed almost immune to public pressure even in the most high-profile cases, which included Bernard Goetz, the so-called Subway Vigilante; the mysterious suicide of Clinton aide Vincent Foster; and the death of Anthony Baez while in NYPD custody.

However, the most consuming work of Dr. Hirsch’s career was the identification of remains following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. That morning, Dr. Hirsch and six of his aides had hurried from their headquarters at First Avenue and 30th Street down to the site, where they would attempt to set up a temporary morgue. The collapse of the North Tower severely injured two of his aides, and Dr. Hirsch had all of his ribs broken.

Despite the carnage, Dr. Hirsch pledged to do everything in his power to identify every victim. That process was extremely difficult because of the crushing force with which the buildings collapsed as well as the extreme heat that instantly cremated many of the remains. Yet, by the time Dr. Hirsch retired in 2013, his office had identified 1,634 of the 2,753 people killed or missing, approximately 59 percent.

As attorneys representing NYPD detective James Zadroga, who died of 9/11-related respiratory disease in 2006, we had an adversarial relationship with Dr. Hirsch, who attributed our client’s death to causes other than the 450-plus hours Detective Zadroga spent combing the rubble of Ground Zero. Although we believe Dr. Hirsch was mistaken, we have nothing but respect for his dedication to his office. Ultimately, we were able to overcome the doctor’s testimony to successfully advocate for the federal Zadroga Act, which provides benefits and compensation for victims and survivors of the WTC attacks.

Barasch & McGarry represents 9/11 survivors suffering from WTC-related illnesses. If you have questions about your rights under the Zadroga Act, call us at 888-351-9421 or contact our office online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Compensation available to residents and office workers, teachers and students – not just responders and volunteers
Our Attorneys
  • "Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson handled everything professionally and with patience. They always had time to answer all my questions and did what they promised. Thanks esp to Brian Calamaris Lee London, and Mariya Atanasova. Thank you." - William Collins, FDNY

  • "If I could give them six stars I would...don't even bother talking to anyone else concerning 9/11. The whole team worked night and day to deliver an outstanding settlement. They are honest, hard working and extremely professional. Just make the one phone call and let them do the rest." - Les Margulis, resident in the exposure zone

  • "I had a very good experience with Michael and Mariya. They made the process stress free. I would recommend this firm to anyone seeking assistance with 9/11 related illnesses." - JE Kirwan, worked in the exposure zone

  • "The people at this firm were just great. They were concern with making sure I was taken care of in every way possible. When I was given an award Mr. Barasch didn't think it was a fair amount and appealed the decision which got me a larger award. I am very satisfied with everything they did for me in the past and are willing to do for me and my family in the future." - Bob Wiecezak, FDNY-Retired

  • "Excellent law firm. Lee London and his staff were very responsive and always followed up with phone calls or emails. This firm is a strong example of what caring and personable lawyers are all about." - Letitia Egan, wife of client, volunteer in the exposure zone

  • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation

    There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

    For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

    Register For Compensation

Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process in order to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.

Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
  • Barasch & McGarry Personal Injury Websites

  • Subscribe to our Newsletter

  • Contact Us

    Fill out the form below with any questions or info on how to get your free consultation

    Quick Contact Form