Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, former New York City Chief Medical Examiner who oversaw the office during the September 11th attacks, has died at 79.
On September 11th Dr. Hirsch and six colleagues rushed downtown to establish a temporary morgue. When the North Tower collapsed Dr. Hirsch broke all of his ribs and suffered lacerations. He had his medical team suture the wounds and returned to the examiner’s office covered in WTC dust.
Dr. Hirsch kept the dust in a glass bowl on his desk as a reminder of the substance inhaled by so many thousands of New Yorkers. In 2002 Dr. Hirsch told the New York Times “If reinforced concrete was rendered into dust, then it wasn’t much of a mystery as to what would happen to people.”
After the attacks, Dr. Hirsch oversaw the forensic efforts to identify all of the 2,753 deceased 9/11 victims. When Dr. Hirsch retired in 2003, 1,634 of the 2,753 deceased victims had been identified.
Dr. Hirsch came under scrutiny in 2007 when he concluded that retired police detective James Zadroga, namesake of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, did not contract lung disease from inhaling WTC dust. Dr. Hirsch’s findings would have meant that Mr. Zadroga’s name could not be added to the list of 9/11 victims.
However, a different medical examiner later found glass in Mr. Zadroga’s lungs and concluded that he died from inhaling WTC dust.
Call Pitta & Baione LLP at 1-844-WTC-COMP to speak with an attorney about whether you may be eligible for benefits under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.