A retired FDNY firefighter who spent months working at Ground Zero after 9/11, and his girlfriend, a hospital office manager, were found dead Sunday on a docked boat in the Fire Island community of Cherry Grove, the apparent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, Suffolk County police said Monday.
Authorities found Peter D’Ancona, 54, also a former NYPD officer, and Tina Sgambati, 51, both of Moriches, at about 2:25 p.m. Sunday aboard a 35-foot Mainship boat docked near Bayview Walk, police said.
The couple, who had been dating for six years, were pronounced dead at the scene by officials with the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. The deaths appear to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, police said.
D'Ancona's son, Peter Ancona Jr., 30, of Center Moriches, remembered his father as a generous and gregarious man who was deeply devoted to his family and to public service.
"He was the biggest, loudest guy," Peter D'Ancona Jr. said in an interview Monday at D’Ancona Contracting in Medford, where he worked with his father. "He would do anything for you. He'd give you the shirt off his back."
D'Ancona Jr. said the death came as the family was preparing to celebrate the birth of his father's first grandchild. D'Ancona's daughter, Krysta, 27, of Raleigh, North Carolina, is 12 weeks pregnant, his son said.
Sgambati had worked for NYU Winthrop Hospital for nine years, most recently managing one of the hospital's largest office branches in North Babylon.
"Tina was a long-standing and highly respected member of the NYU Winthrop staff," hospital spokesman Edmund Keating said. "Our entire community is saddened by her loss."
Relatives of Sgambati could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Peter D'Ancona played for the Bellport High School football team, had a construction company that built homes on Fire Island, and served as a Marine Corps reservist for a decade, according to family members and a Marine Corps spokeswoman.
He joined the NYPD in 1996 and worked as a police officer at the 113th Precinct in Jamaica, Queens, until he moved to the FDNY in 1999, officials said.
D'Ancona was stationed at Engine Company 10, one of the closest firehouses to the World Trade Center. On 9/11, D'Ancona was supposed to be on duty but had switched shifts with a colleague, Jeffrey Olsen of Staten Island, D'Ancona Jr. said.
Olsen, who had been a firefighter for two years, was one of six members of the firehouse killed in the 2001 terror attacks.
D'Ancona spent months working on the debris pile at Ground Zero, eventually suffering severe lung and sinus health problems that required surgery, his son said.
"I am very proud to say that I came from that firehouse," D'Ancona said during a September 2015 interview with MSNBC as Pope Francis visited the World Trade Center site. "I work with the best that there is."
D'Ancona transferred to Ladder 127 in Queens in 2005 and retired from the department the following year when he opened his contracting company.
Chris Lindberg, an FDNY hazmat specialist, called D'Ancona — a friend of 15 years — a "top-notch firefighter" who exemplified bravery and led by example.
"He was the hardest working guy I've ever known," said Lindberg, an assistant chief at the Manorville Fire Department, where D'Ancona was a volunteer for several years. "He was dedicated to friends, family and the fire service."
D'Ancona's parents remembered him as a straight shooter who was popular with friends and colleagues.
“He liked boating," said his father, also named Peter D'Ancona, 76, also of Moriches. "He liked anything. He was just an all-around guy everyone loved."
His mother, Linda, 72, said, “He was good to everyone.”