Survivor Stories


It was while we were sitting at a red light on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx that Carlos noticed a man running down the stairs, followed by an undercover police officer, shield flying as he raced after the man. “That perp is getting away!” he yelled to me, and as the light turned green he hit the gas. He followed the perp, jumped out of the car, and cut him off, cornering him until the undercover caught up.

“I’m on the job,” he said to the undercover and showed his ID. “But I’m on sick leave,” he explained, which explained why he wasn’t wearing his own shield or weapon. With the perp cuffed and lying on the ground, Carlos stood guard while the officer radioed for a patrol car. A few minutes later he walked back to the car panting, but wearing a big smile.

We had been on our way to Stew Leonard’s for dinner, but now I could hear Carlos trying to catch his breath. “I’m a bit tied,” he said. “I hope you’re not mad at me.” He reached for my hand. How could I be mad at him when he seemed so happy, and smiled in a way that he hadn’t since before he became ill. “That’s okay,” I replied, “Stew’s will still be there tomorrow.

I met Carlos while we were working at Macy’s New York in the Merchandise Information Systems department in the early 1980s. We married and soon had Vivien Marie and Carlos William. He was a computer whiz, enjoyed going to the movies and watching the Mets.

It had been a long road, this illness that attacked first responders after the towers came down, this cancer that lingered and ravaged his body. He had been a brave police officer who worked at Ground Zero to give closure and comfort to families, and after he was diagnosed, he fought just as bravely and nobly.

On November 21, 2009, Lt. SA Ocasio, age 49, succumbed to illness contracted following the rescue and recovery effort in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center.

Maureen Ocasio