Another 9/11 victim added to list
New York woman’s name to be called on anniversary after dying from inhaled dust
By Amy Westfeldt
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK — Joseph Jones marks his wife’s death on two days each year.
Every Feb. 10 — the day she died of lung disease — Jones lays flowers at her grave in Staten Island. On Sept. 11 — the day the World Trade Center collapsed and she inhaled the toxic dust cloud that enveloped lower Manhattan — Jones watches television at home, listening to 2,749 names of the financial workers, firefighters, parents and children who were killed in the attack.
For the first time on Tuesday, Jones is going to a small park southeast of ground zero, where he will stand for hours with those victims’ families marking the sixth anniversary and hear the name of his wife, Felicia Dunn-Jones, who died just five months after the towers fell. He is not sure how he will feel.
“It’s just a sense of sadness, really,” he said. “It’s just a sense of acknowledgment that ... her death was caused by events happening that day.”
The addition of Dunn-Jones, a 42-year-old civil rights attorney, to New York City’s Sept. 11 death toll occurred in a year that sharply focused on post-Sept. 11 illness — and the legacy of the cleanup of ground zero — more than ever before.
That legacy was painfully altered by the unearthing of several hundred human remains from streets and sewer lines around the trade center site, which officials acknowledged were missed the first year. Doctors published more studies establishing direct links to respiratory illnesses and the exposure to the mixture of pulverized concrete, asbestos, mercury and other toxins that wafted over ground zero for close to a year. One study showed a powerful connection to sarcoidosis — the lung-scarring disease that killed Dunn-Jones — and city firefighters.
“I don’t think anyone’s questioning any more how many thousands of people are sick,” said David Worby, who represents close to 10,000 plaintiffs suing the city and contractors who oversaw ground zero’s cleanup. More than 100 of his plaintiffs have died, he says.
City officials have argued that more research is needed before the true health effects of Sept. 11 can be proven. But they significantly changed their position this year, commissioning a health panel that concluded in February that treating the ailments of exposed workers could cost close to $400 million a year.
“We are not about to abandon the men and women who helped lift our city back onto its feet during our greatest time of need,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the time.
Three months later, city Medical Examiner Charles Hirsch surprised many by adding Dunn-Jones’ name to the official Sept. 11 victims’ list.
Citing “accumulated scientific research” that linked sarcoidosis to ground zero exposure, Hirsch wrote in May, “the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has thus concluded that Mrs. Dunn-Jones’ exposure to World Trade Center dust on 9/11/01 contributed to her death and it has been ruled a homicide.”
His ruling did not bring her husband money — he had already received over $2 million from special master Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the federal fund that compensated Sept. 11 victims. Jones just sought recognition that her death was caused by Sept. 11 to allow him to hear her name read at anniversary ceremonies and etched onto the Sept. 11 memorial.
“Feinberg said she was a victim of the terrorist attacks. If she was a victim of the terrorist attacks, her name should be on the list,” Jones said.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!