Second Street in Clarkstown Named for Firefighter who Died of 9/11-Related Illness

Journal News - October 29, 2018

by Jordan Fenster, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

CLARKSTOWN - A street in West Nyack got a new name Saturday in honor of Joseph "Toolie" O'Toole, a New York City firefighter and Rockland County resident who died from a 9/11-related cancer.

Unlike the unnamed road that officially became Joe Stach's Way earlier this month — in honor of another Clarkstown resident who succumbed to a 9/11-related illness — Garrecht Place in West Nyack will not be renamed.

“The street will actually have two names,” Clarkstown town Supervisor George Hoehmann said before the ceremony.

O’Toole died in 2016 at the age of 61 following a long battle with a cancer he contracted, the FDNY confirmed, after working at the World Trade Center site.

Stach and O’Toole were only two of many local firefighters who died as a result of illnesses related to the recovery and clean-up at the site, Hoehmann noted.

“When we started to look into it we realized that it’s a good number, probably two dozen from Rockland County, who have succumbed to 9/11-related illness, a lot of them from the town of Clarkstown,” Hoehmann said. “That number’s only going to grow.”

Two more firefighters — Edward Meehan, who died in February, and Randy Wiebicke, who died in 2011 — will have streets commemorated in their names this spring.

To “outline the gravity of the situation,” Hoehmann said a plaque listing all the names of firefighters who died as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center will be installed at Town Hall. “Just so that none of these folks are forgotten.”

With more deaths from 9/11-related cancers inevitable, Hoehmann said a plaque will allow the town to commemorate more firefighters as they succumb to illnesses.

“Hopefully, someday we’ll stop adding names to that plaque,” he said. “Philosophically, you can say the attacks are still continuing.”