FAMILY OF HEROES AT LAST BIDS FAREWELL TO THEIR INTREPID SON

By MARIA ALVAREZ

April 13, 2002 --

Several thousand people stood motionless in silent tribute to fallen firefighter hero Jimmy Riches outside St. Patrick's Cathedral yesterday morning.
Hundreds of uniformed firefighters and cops standing at attention formed a color guard from 48th Street to 51st Street 10 rows deep as Riches' flag-draped coffin was carried on the back of Engine No. 4.

The 29-year-old's remains were found three weeks ago in the rubble of the World Trade Center's north tower.

The discovery ended months of waiting for his father, Battalion Chief James Riches, who had been working the recovery effort at the "hole" since Sept. 11.

When the remains were found, Riches called his three surviving sons to the WTC site to "carry Jimmy out on the stretcher. I wanted to be there, and I know he wanted me to be there. I promised that I'd bring him home, and we did."

Chief Riches returned to the hole today.

Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta attended the funeral Mass. Gov. Pataki attended the wake in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the night before, where hundreds lined up for four blocks to pay their respects.


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