FDNY EMT dies of 9/11-related illness

Joseph Rodriguez, 59, died of lung cancer he contracted from the hours he spent assisting in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero


By News Staff

NEW YORK — A retired FDNY EMT died Friday of 9/11-related cancer.

New York Daily News reported that Joseph Rodriguez, 59, lost his battle with lung cancer at a hospice facility.

Retired FDNY EMT Joseph Rodriguez, 59, lost his battle with lung cancer at a hospice facility. (Photo/FDNY)
Retired FDNY EMT Joseph Rodriguez, 59, lost his battle with lung cancer at a hospice facility. (Photo/FDNY)

Rodriguez, who retired in 2016 after serving as an EMT for 28 years, raced to Ground Zero to assist in rescue and recovery efforts on 9/11, and his family said he has battled one illness after another from the toxins.

“He never regretted being out there, even though he got sick and everything,” his wife, Jeannie, said.

FDNY Community Liaison and longtime friend Richard Velez said Rodriguez was nicknamed “Joey Challenger” due to his love of cars and the number of trophies he won with his 2010 Dodge Challenger.

“He knew it was coming, but he was fighting it all the way,” Velez said about Rodriguez’s death. “He didn’t want to go to hospice, but his wife took him over there because she needed the help.”

FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Rodriguez was “a dedicated and caring Emergency Medical Technician who spent his career saving the lives of New Yorkers.”

“Even as he bravely battled cancer in retirement, Joey never wavered in his commitment, coming to the aid of a cardiac arrest patient and saving his life as well,” Nigro said.

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