Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

April 3, 2013

Possible human remains found in new 9/11 debris

NEW YORK — Jim Riches pulled his son’s mangled body out of the rubble at the World Trade Center, but the phone calls still filtered in years afterward. The city kept finding more pieces of his son.

“They’ll call you and they’ll tell you, ‘We found a shin bone,”’ Riches said. “Or: ‘We found an arm bone.’ We held them all together and then we put them in the cemetery.”

Those are the phone calls both dreaded and hoped for among the families of Sept. 11 victims. And as investigators began sifting through newly uncovered debris from the World Trade Center on Monday for the first time in three years, those anxieties were renewed more than a decade after the attacks.

But there was also hope that more victims might yet be identified after tens of millions have been spent on the painstaking identification process.

“We would like to see the other 40 percent of the families who have never recovered anything to at least someday have a piece of their loved one,” Riches said. “That they can go to a cemetery and pray.”

About 60 truckloads of debris that could contain tiny fragments of bone or tissue were unearthed by construction crews that have been working on the new World Trade Center in recent years. That material is now being transported to a park built on top of the former Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where investigators will attempt to find any possible remains during the next 10 weeks, the city said.

Two potential human remains were recovered on Monday, according to the medical examiner.

The city’s last sifting effort ended in 2010. This time, crews were able to dig up parts of the trade center site that were previously inaccessible to workers, the city said.

Some 2,750 people died at the World Trade Center in the 2001 terrorist attacks, but only 1,634 people have been identified.

“We have been monitoring the World Trade Center site over time and monitoring the construction,” said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office. “And if they see any material that could possibly contain human remains, we collect that material.”

About 9,000 human remains recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center remain unidentified because they are too degraded to match victims by DNA identification. The remains are stored at an undisclosed location monitored by the medical examiner’s office and will eventually be transferred to a subterranean chamber at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Some victims’ families expressed impatience that the city has only just uncovered more debris.

“Quite frankly, they should’ve excavated this and searched it 12 years ago,” said Diane Horning, whose son, Matthew, died in the attacks. “Instead, they built service roads and construction roads and were more worried about the building and the tourism than they were about the human remains.”

The city’s efforts to identify Sept. 11 victims have long been fraught with controversy.

In April 2005, the city’s chief medical examiner, Charles Hirsch, told families his office would be suspending identification efforts because it had exhausted the limits of DNA technology.

But just a year later, the discovery of human remains on a bank tower roof and then in a manhole near ground zero outraged families who said the search for their loved ones had been rushed initially. The findings prompted a renewed search that cost the city tens of millions of dollars and uncovered 1,500 pieces of remains.

Meanwhile, some victims’ relatives sued the city over its decision to move 1.6 million tons of materials from the trade center site to the Fresh Kills landfill, saying the material might contain victims’ ashes and should have been given a proper burial.

The lawsuit was dismissed, and unsuccessfully appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As it embarks on combing through debris yet again, the medical examiner’s office says it will keep monitoring the site as long as new areas are being dug or exposed.

Charles G. Wolf was pleased to hear about the renewed search, though he believes that his wife, Katherine, was vaporized during the attack. Investigators have never found her remains.

Years ago, it bothered him that he had no grave to visit. Wolf said the opening of the Sept. 11 memorial has filled a hole in his heart, but he’ll never have closure.

“You heal. You carry on,” he said. “It’s not closure.”

1
Text Only
Top News
  • FAA: Small plane accident in Ga. woods

    The Federal Aviation Administration says a small plane has been destroyed by fire in an accident in a wooded area of western Georgia and that two people were aboard.

    July 13, 2014

  • Germany wins World Cup in extra time

    Mario Goetze volleyed in the winning goal in extra time to give Germany its fourth World Cup title with a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Sunday.

    July 13, 2014

  • Airman laid to rest six decades after death

    Airman laid to rest six decades after death

    July 13, 2014

  • Mideast Israel Palest_Rich copy.jpg Israeli troops raid rocket launching site in Gaza

    Ignoring international appeals for a cease-fire, Israel widened its range of Gaza bombing targets to civilian institutions with suspected Hamas ties and deployed ground troops inside Gaza for the first time early Sunday to raid a rocket launching site in the Palestinian territory. More than 156 Palestinians have been killed in five days of bombardment.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Immigration Overload _Rich copy.jpg Backlogged immigration courts face new deluge

    Adolescent girls in braids and pigtails and teenage boys wearing jeans and sneakers sat alongside their parents in the courtroom of Immigration Judge Frank Travieso to hear how long they might be allowed to stay in the United States.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teachers Masters Degr_Rich copy.jpg Districts debate merits of master’s for teachers

    Efforts to eliminate extra pay for teachers who earn advanced degrees are gaining momentum in a small but growing number of U.S. schools, stirring a national debate about how best to compensate quality educators and angering teachers who say the extra training is valuable.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fundraiser BBQ sale planned

    Kemet Universal Red Dirt BBQ will sponsor  “Project Hope for Life” Back to School Fundraiser BBQ Sale from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. July 18 and Aug. 1 at the Variety Store, located at 124 West Street.

    July 13, 2014

  • AP7707130105 copy.jpg Today in HIstory for Sunday, July 13, 2014

    Today is Sunday, July 13, the 194th day of 2014. There are 171 days left in the year.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Houston Suburban Shoo_Rich copy.jpg Shooting suspect collapses twice in court

    A man accused of killing six members of his ex-wife’s family, including four children, after forcing his way into their suburban Houston home collapsed in court twice Friday as a prosecutor read out details of the crime.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Apartment Fire_Rich copy.jpg Immigrant community rallies after fire kills seven

    Soben Pin wept as she tried to express her sorrow Friday over a fire that claimed the lives of five members of a Cambodian family and displaced dozens more in Massachusetts.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

The sales tax holiday is Aug. 1-2. Does it affect your back-to-school shopping?

Comes too late. Shopping's done.
Perfect timing.
Too early. Kids need supply lists.
     View Results