9/11 first responder from East Meadow dies of cancer
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Robert Ehmer of East Meadow had planned to use his share of the settlement for Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers to pay for treatment that his Medicare insurance wouldn't cover, his sister Annette Ehmer said.
Ehmer, a 20-year New York City police officer, lost a three-year battle with kidney cancer Sunday, dying at the Hospice Inn in Melville. He was 47. His family believes he became ill as a result of his work at Ground Zero.
"He had accepted an offer in the lawsuit" for $50,000 to $150,000, Annette Ehmer said. "He knew he was dying and he didn't want to wait. He was hoping to have had it by now."
Annette Ehmer said her older brother retired from the NYPD in 2005 and was found to have stage 4 renal failure carcinoma two years later. The diagnosis interrupted his plans to build a North Carolina mountain home and travel the country on the back of his beloved Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail.
"The other drug that he wanted to go on, Medicare wouldn't pay for," she said. "If he would have had this money sooner, he would have had no problem shelling out $8,000 a month for the treatment. He fought until the last breath he had."
Ehmer, who never married, worked in the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst, Queens. He supplemented his police work as an EMT for St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway and was a volunteer New Hyde Park firefighter, his sister said.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he rushed in his St. John's ambulance to the World Trade Center, but had to flee when the second tower fell. For the next four months, he worked 12-hour NYPD shifts downtown, assisting in security at the site.
"It was a horrible day, and he just wanted to do his part," said Annette Ehmer, of Islip Terrace. "He did what the police department asked him to do, he did it willingly. He didn't think he was going to get sick."
Ehmer grew up in New Hyde Park, attending Nassau Community College before joining the NYPD in 1985.
In addition to his sister, Ehmer is survived by his brother, Richard, of Lewis Center, Ohio; his father, Herbert, and stepmother, Karin, of Hendersonville, N.C.
Visitation is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday from 2-4:30 p.m. and 7-9:30 p.m., and Friday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Chapey & Sons Funeral Home in East Islip. A memorial service is planned for noon Friday at the funeral home.
"He was the best brother," Annette Ehmer said. "He was the best friend to so many people. He loved his police friends; he loved his biker buddies. They all worked so well together. I'm just so proud of him."