Port Authority LEO dies of 9/11-related cancer

The LEO died a month after what many hoped would be a life-saving surgery


Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A Port Authority police officer known for his dedication and true grit has lost his long bout with a 9/11 related cancer, the agency said Friday.

Police Officer William Leahy, who reminded colleagues of stoic western star John Wayne died at his parents’ home on Thursday — one month after what many hoped would be a life-saving surgery, friends said. He was 49.

Port Authority Police Officer William Leahy (Photo/ Port Authority Police Department)
Port Authority Police Officer William Leahy (Photo/ Port Authority Police Department)

“(He was) tough as nails and always got the job done,” PAPD Lt. Daniel Rhein said. “At the same time, he would call his mother every day.”

Rhein, who worked with Leahy, called his longtime friend a “straight shooter” who had a “John Wayne type personality.”

Leahy joined the Port Authority in 1992, a year before the World Trade Center bombing.

He responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and spent weeks working at Ground Zero during rescue and recovery efforts.

Despite his fatal illness, the 27-year veteran never left his post at Kennedy Airport, PA officials said.

“Officer Leahy served the Port Authority Police Department with pride and distinction," Port Authority Superintendent Ed Cetnar said. “His commitment to serving the public never wavered and his determination held steady as he battled his illness.”

During his career, the Leahy spent time in PAPD’s Marine Unit, Cargo Unit and heavy weapons unit. He also racked up more than 500 arrests while in plainclothes at JFK Airport. He also received the World Trade Center medal and an Excellent Police Duty Unit Citation, PA officials said.

An estimated 90,000 first responders showed up at work on the pile in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. An additional 400,000 survivors lived and worked in the area at the time.

World Trade Center health care advocates are seeking to extend the $7.3 federal Victims Compensation Fund, which provides monetary payouts to those stricken with a 9/11 illness to help offset living and medical expenses.

The fund is slated to expire in 2020, but so many people have requested help, that the fund is expected to run out money before the deadline. In February, the fund compensated for the expected shortfall by amending its award payouts — new applicants would get less money than those enrolled prior.

Funeral services for Leahy will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Charles J. O’Shea Funeral home in East Meadow. A funeral mass will be held at St. Louis de Montfort Roman Catholic Church in Miller Place at noon on Monday.

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©2019 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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