New York State Police Trooper Who Died of 9/11-Cancer Laid to Rest

As people fled New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Ryan Fortini bravely headed in, a heroic act that would later cost him his life.

Boston Herald
As people fled New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Ryan Fortini bravely headed in, a heroic act that would later cost him his life.
As people fled New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Ryan Fortini bravely headed in, a heroic act that would later cost him his life.
New York State Police

BURLINGTON, Massachusetts -- As people fled New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Ryan Fortini bravely headed in, a heroic act that would later cost him his life.

Fortini was among the New York State Police troopers who helped with search and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. The Bay State native was on foot patrol along Canal Street and provided escorts back and forth to the temporary morgue, recalled New York State Police Superintendent Keith Corlett at Fortini’s funeral service on Monday.

“Although his illness robbed us way too soon of this vivacious and selfless man, through all his treatments and stresses and hardships, it could not take away Ryan’s kindness or his profound desire to help others,” Corlett told the congregation packed with troopers at St. Margaret’s Church in Burlington, where Fortini grew up.

Fortini was diagnosed with cancer 11 years after Sept. 11 and underwent several surgeries and intensive treatments.

“It wasn’t an easy fight,” Corlett said.

On New Year’s Day, at age 42, Fortini died from his illness, a direct result of his 9/11 work, according to State Police.

Hundreds of state troopers from New York, Massachusetts and Vermont came to Fortini’s hometown to bid him farewell.

Despite battling cancer, Fortini always found a way to help and protect others. He made sure his friends and co-workers who responded to 9/11 got checked out, Corlett said, and he volunteered at housing projects for cancer patients.

Fortini joined the New York State Police in 1998. He served for 16 years, most recently as an investigator, but had to retire as his illness progressed, Corlett said.

“He loved his job. He loved his work,” Corlett said. “And he certainly loved his family and friends.”

Fortini was a jokester who was never without that “mischievous grin,” Corlett said, but he was always professional, a smart man who loved to work.

“Ryan never turned away a case, big or small,” Corlett said. “He wanted to make a difference.”

Fortini recently moved to Delaware after falling in love with its beaches, which reminded him of Cape Cod, said his friend, retired NYPD cop Chris Hunt. “He always, always had a smile on his face,” said Hunt, who also worked on the post-9/11 recovery effort.

Fortini’s fiancee, Caitlin McGuire, never left his side, Corlett said. During the holidays, Fortini donated toys to needy children and loved his dogs, Jager, Cosmo, Jack and Stoli.

Whenever a first responder died as a result of 9/11, Fortini made sure to share it on social media.

“Ryan didn’t want them to be forgotten,” Corlett said. “Today, we make that promise to him — that Ryan will never be forgotten.”

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