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9/11 detective dies after battle with lung cancer

From Julie Cannold, CNN
Kevin Czartyoryski died almost a decade after being exposed to toxic debris while working at ground zero.
Kevin Czartyoryski died almost a decade after being exposed to toxic debris while working at ground zero.
  • New York police officer, a 9-11 responder, died after battling lung cancer
  • NYPD medical board presumed his condition was caused by toxic air from ground zero
  • Czartoryski's funeral occurred on the same day 9/11 bill was derailed in Senate

New York (CNN) -- Mourners gathered Thursday for the funeral service of a New York police detective, who died nearly a decade after being exposed to toxic debris while transporting victims in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Kevin Czartyoryski died Sunday after a months-long battle with lung cancer, according to the head of the city's detectives union, Michael Palladino.

"In May, he was cancer free," Palladino said. "Now here we are seven months later and he's passed away."

Czartyoryski developed cancer after years suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which the lung tissue becomes thick and scarred.

The New York Police Department medical board presumed his condition was caused by the toxic air he breathed while working at ground zero, according to police spokesman Carlos Nieves.

Czartoryski joined the police force in 1988 and had most recently been working in its public information office before he retired on disability in 2008.

He received a lung transplant in May 2010, just before cancer was discovered in his remaining lung, Palladino said.

For months after the collapse of the World Trade Center, he had worked at ground zero, searching for victims' remains and organizing a temporary morgue.

"He loved the NYPD and the work he was doing," Palladino said.

The 46-year-old Queens native is remembered by friends and colleagues as a respected man with "a magnificent personality," he added.

"On behalf of the entire Police Department I convey my condolences to family and friends of retired Detective Kevin Czartoryski," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a written statement on Thursday. "He was a consummate professional and a cheerful bridge for understanding who will be missed terribly."

Czartoryski had worked as a public affairs officer to the city's gay and transgender community, working as a part of the department's Hate Crime Task Force.

Meanwhile in Washington, Senate Republicans derailed a procedural vote on a bill that would provide $7.4 billion in aid and medical coverage to those exposed to toxins following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Thursday's vote "a tragic example of partisan politics trumping patriotism."

But the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill is not the only plan intended to support ground zero workers.

Last month a settlement set to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to ground zero workers concluded a seven-year fight between the city of New York and first responders, who said they were not properly outfitted for search-and-rescue efforts following the attack.