Former NYPD detective dies of 9/11-related cancer
Joseph L. Pidoto, 51, was off when the attacks occurred, but went to assist when he heard about the attacks on TV
Duty Death: Joseph L. Pidoto - [New York, New York]
End of Service: 10/26/2018
By Chau Lam
NEW YORK — Joseph L. Pidoto, a New York City detective who aided in the relief effort following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was known for his kindness, died last week. He was 51.
The cause was liver cancer due to his work in downtown Manhattan after the attacks, said his widow, Debbie Pidoto, 50, of Mount Sinai. He died Oct. 26.
Sept. 11, 2001, was Pidoto’s day off, but he told his wife he was going to work shortly after the couple learned from television broadcasts that two commercial jets seized by terrorists had flown into the Twin Towers in Manhattan.
“I hugged him goodbye and told him to be careful,” she remembered.
Pidoto, assigned to the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood, Queens, was dispatched to work in downtown Manhattan in the days and weeks following the towers' collapse, Debbie Pidoto said.
One day in 2012, her husband, who had difficulty swallowing, went to a doctor, who discovered a buildup of undigested food in his system.
“Over a weekend, he became jaundiced,” Debbie Pidoto said.
Additional tests found a tumor in Pidoto’s bile duct, she said. Surgery to remove the tumor and chemotherapy kept the cancer at bay for a time, but it eventually returned.
Born on Feb. 24, 1967, in Brooklyn, Pidoto moved with his parents to Islip Terrace when he was about 10, and it was there he met the girl who later became his wife.
The couple, married in 1991, moved to Mount Sinai more than a decade later, where they raised their daughter, Brianna Pidoto, 20, and son, Joseph Nicholas Pidoto, 23, of Smithtown, who followed his father into the NYPD and became a police officer.
Joseph L. Pidoto joined the NYPD in 1993. A decade later, he was promoted to detective. He retired in 2014.
A week before he died, Pidoto, against the advice of his doctors, insisted they discharge him from Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, so he could attend his son’s wedding. John McNally, 50, retired deputy inspector of the NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force, a friend and former boss of Pidoto, recalled Pidoto telling him: “I made it this far. This is what it’s about.”
Pidoto, a physically imposing man, was known as the “gentle giant”, who was generous to strangers and acquaintances.
McNally said Pidoto heard a story about McNally’s friend’s struggle while caring for a daughter with brain cancer. He bought a dish washing machine for the family, although he never met them.
Debbie Pidoto said that when her husband learned that the mother of their daughter’s boyfriend was about to lose her house in a foreclosure, he bought it in 2017, and rented the house to her. He only collected what the woman could afford to pay in rent.
“He was a compassionate, caring and loving person,” said McNally of Massapequa.