9/11 First Responder Mourned as Lawmakers Debate Health Bill

Supporters launch last-ditch effort to pass Zadroga bill

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    A tearful widow clutched the American flag that, moments before, had draped her husband's coffin. Dozens of NYPD officers stood at attention, their arms raised in salute to a fallen brother. 

    Strains of "God Bless America" echoed from the NYPD's bagpipes and drums contingent.

    NYPD officer David Mahmoud, 49 of Medford, was mourned at St. Francis DeSales Church in Patchogue Tuesday. Mahmoud was, according to family and friends, the latest victim of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

    The 15-year NYPD veteran died last week after a two-year battle with a rare cancer that disfigured his nose and face.

    The father of three had spent more than 60 hours working at and around Ground Zero after 9/11. His family believes his illness resulted from that time on the "pile."

    As family and friends said goodbye with a show of love and patriotism, other 9/11 first responders and lawmakers like NYC Mayor Bloomberg were lobbying members of the Senate in Washington, D.C. to pass the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. 

    Better known as the Zadroga bill, the proposed legislation would provide an estimated $7 billion in aid to first responders and their families.

    "September 11th continues to this day," said PBA chief Patrick Lynch, who attended Mahmoud's funeral.  "It's about taking care of those who stood up when terrorists attacked our country and our way of life."

    "We'd really like to get the truth- what happened at Ground Zero?" said Mahmoud's brother, Hashem, who stood outside the church. 

    "These people put their lives on the line for us and they deserve respect."

    The House of Representatives approved the Zadroga bill earlier this year; but, it has stalled in the Senate.  Opponents have questioned its cost.

    Supporters hope to win approval before the new Congress is sworn in.

    "It's a disgrace.  This bill should have passed months ago," said Brent Robson, a retired NYPD officer who worked with Mahmoud at Ground Zero.

    Mahmoud left behind a wife, Bessie and three daughters- Cynthia, 22; Ashley, 18; Amber, 14.

    "His big thing was taking care of his family," said Robson.  "Now, we have to take care of them for him."