Remains Of Firefighters And Cops Among Those To Stay Unidentified

Updated: 02-24-2005 08:02:17 PM

Firehouse.Com News

As the quest to identify the remains of over a thousand 9/11 victims at the World Trade Center draws to a close, some of the families affected are those of firefighters and police officers.

The New York City medical examiner's office announced this week that after almost three and a half years of identification efforts, it has exhausted the DNA technology currently available. That leaves 1,161 of the 2,749 people killed at the World Trade Center without identifiable remains.

There was no immediate estimate available of how many of the 343 FDNY firefighters, 23 NYPD officers and 37 Port Authority officers who died on 9/11 were among the unidentified remains. The medical examiner's office said the information was not a matter of public record, and the individual agencies did not immediately reply.

However, numerous media reports have quoted the families of fallen public safety workers who were waiting for identifications of loved ones' remains.

According to The Washington Post, Sally Regenhard lost her 28-year-old firefighter son, Christian, in the World Trade Center attacks. He was at his station in Red Hook, Brooklyn, when the emergency call came and he responded to the towers.

"Oh God, it puts an end to hope that we might get some sort of answer," Regenhard told the Washington Post. "For me, the chance to find out what exactly happened to my son is over. For so many families of firefighters, our sons and husbands have disappeared into death."

Another firefighter's mother spoke to the New York Daily News. Rosemarie Foti of the lower East Side said her son Robert Foti was never found. She is among those asking that WTC debris be dug up from the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island and returned to Ground Zero, concerned that the ash and dust is all that remains of many victims.

"My son is in a garbage dump. I can't live with that," Foti told the New York Daily News. "I want him buried where he died and where he was cremated."

Another family still looking for closure, and hoping the identification process will one day continue with improved technology, is that of firefighter Joseph Doyle. His father Bill Doyle told the New York Post, "I'm not going to give up. I have faith."

At least one police officer's family also spoke to the media about the end of the identification process.

Widow Patty Coughlin spoke to The Journal News, which covers New York's Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

According to the paper, Coughlin's husband, 43-year-old Sgt. John Coughlin, was a member of the NYPD's elite Emergency Services Unit and the father of three children. "Neither his remains nor what he wore Sept. 11, 2001 -- not even his badge, gun or helmet -- has been found," the Journal News reported.

"It's a tough day," Coughlin told the Journal News. "It's kind of like a double-edged sword. I'm kind of relieved that I'm not waiting for that phone to ring to tell me they found him. But you would like to have something to bury. Although at this stage of the game, it would be brutal to put my family through that again."