NY trooper dies from 9/11-related illness
Brian Falb was assigned to the World Trade Center following the terrorist attack to help in search-and-recovery efforts
Duty Death: Brian S. Falb - [Albany, New York]
End of Service: 03/13/2017
By Emily Masters
ALBANY, N.Y. — A state trooper who spent most of his 19-year career patrolling the North Country died Monday from a 9/11-related illness, State Police announced.
Trooper Brian S. Falb was assigned to the World Trade Center site following the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, to help in search-and-recovery efforts.
State Police would not disclose the illness that killed Falb, citing medical privacy. According to a website dedicated to raising funds for his family, he was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City certified Falb's illness as related to 9/11 through the World Trade Center Health Program, according to Beau Duffy, a State Police spokesman.
A 47-year-old husband and father of four, Falb was assigned to Troop B and worked in Clinton and Franklin counties. He joined the State Police in 1998.
His latest assignment was with the Traffic Incident Management Unit, which responds to major car crashes, leads traffic enforcement, inspects commercial vehicles and investigates auto theft.
Falb is the fourth State Police member to die from a 9/11-related illness, which is considered a line of duty death, said Kristin Lowman, a State Police spokeswoman.
Thousands of people who were exposed to the terror attacks have been diagnosed with airway and digestive disorders, mental health conditions, musculoskeletal disorders and cancers.
Plattsburgh-based photographer Damian Battinelli became fast friends with Falb four years ago when the trooper hired him to shoot a family portrait and the men realized they were both 9/11 first responders who had developed cancer. Battinelli was diagnosed with bladder cancer two years ago, more than a decade after the attacks.
Battinelli said he and Falb helped each other through the process of being certified for the World Trade Center Health Program, a Centers for Disease Control program that covers medical expenses for people whose illness was caused by the terrorist attacks.
"He was not taking it lying down," Battinelli said. "He fought so hard."
Falb "commanded the room when he walked in," Battinelli said. "He was a guy's guy, you know? Super-kind, funny, smart. Someone you wanted to be around."
Thomas Mungeer, president of the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association, thanked the North Carolina State Police "for their assistance and the compassion they showed Brian and his family while Brian was receiving treatment at Duke University Hospital these past two and a half months. Brian had just returned home last week."
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
©2017 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)