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ATF Officer and 9/11 Responder Dies of Rare Cancer

911 Cancer Fund attorneys report that a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agent died last week from a 9/11 related cancer. Special Agent William Sheldon, Jr., ATF agent and 9/11 responder, died at the age of 47 after a year long battle with a rare cancer.

First Responders and 9/11 Related Cancers

s3On September 11, 2001, Agent Sheldon was working out of the ATF’s field office in Queens. When he learned of the attacks, he rushed to Ground Zero to assist in the rescue and recovery operations and was caught in an enormous cloud of dust when the second tower fell. Sheldon, along with hundreds of other responders, was exposed to toxic dust and smoke emanating from the pile of debris in the aftermath of the attacks.  In 2014, Sheldon was diagnosed with a rare cancer related to this 9/11 exposure.  Two other ATF agents who responded were also diagnosed with cancers related to this 9/11 exposure.

Rare Cancers and the 911 Cancer Fund

Sheldon died of a rare cancer, which, according to the 911 Cancer Fund, is considered “any type of cancer which occurs at a rate less than 15 cases per 100,000 people per year.” This includes brain cancer and pancreatic cancer.

In the aftermath of 9/11, thousands of individuals–from rescue and recovery workers working at Ground Zero, to office workers and residents–were exposed to untold amounts of toxins and carcinogens from the dust and smoking debris.

These responders and survivors are applying for treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). Sheldon himself had been certified with a 9/11 related cancer by the WTCHP, according to the ATF. Many are also applying for compensation from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (sometimes called the 911 Cancer Fund). As the years go on, more and more individuals will likely be diagnosed with these 9/11 related cancers but if the Zadroga Act is not extended from 2016 onward, newly diagnosed individuals will be unable to receive treatment from the WTCHP or file a claim for compensation from the 911 Cancer Fund.