For Robert Ehmer, the $625 million city settlement for 9/11 first responders came two days too late.
Ehmer, a police officer with the 110th precinct in Elmhurst, Queens, died at 3:30 a.m. yesterday of kidney cancer. He was 47.
“Robert was there when the second tower fell,” recalled his sister, Annette Ehmer. “And then he returned to try and find survivors. ... He was diagnosed with kidney cancer in August 2007.”
Ehmer was one of 10,043 first responders who opted in last week to receive settlements from the city, ranging from $3,250 to $1.8 million.
But before his payment could be received, Ehmer succumbed to the disease; his doctors believe he contracted the cancer after being exposed to heavy metals while doing clean-up at Ground Zero.
And if the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which passed in the House and is currently stalled in the Senate, had been passed months ago, Ehmer may still be alive today, she said.
“One of the last treatments he was going to try costs $8,000 a month, and Medicare wouldn’t cover it,” said Annette. “If that was passed when it should have been passed all of these guys would have had access to health care.”
Robert joins the more than 900 other first-responders who have died in the years following the attacks.