Ground Zero Cop Dies 10 Years After Toxic Dust Exposure

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    Family and friends mourned the death Saturday of retired NYPD detective and ground zero hero Edwin Ortiz, nearly a week after he died from cancer caused by the toxic dust of Sept. 11.

    Ortiz, 56, was a first responder at ground zero who spent a year sifting through debris taken to Staten Island, the Daily News reports.

    He died July 4 from colon cancer attributed to the toxic chemicals.

    "Ed wanted to help people after the terrorist attacks -- he didn't think about the danger," said his wife Daisy, a retired NYPD detective.

    More than 100 people showed up to the memorial service held at St. Boniface Church near the couple's Rockland County home, the Daily News reports.

    Ortiz joined the NYPD in 1985 and made detective in 1990, according to the Daily News. He spent the next 15 years working in the Bronx's 40th precinct.

    Ortiz was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer in 2007, two years after he retired. His doctors believe exposure to 9/11 toxins brought on the disease because of the severity of the illness and the fact that Ortiz had no family history.

    In 2008, the NYPD upped his pension from half of his salary to 75 percent.