NY police detective dies of 9/11-related cancer
Suffolk Police Det. Stephen Mullen, a decorated and revered 26-year veteran, died on Friday of cancer he contracted while responding to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
By Zachary R. Dowdy
SUFFOLK, N.Y. - Family and colleagues on Tuesday mourned Suffolk Police Det. Stephen Mullen, a decorated and revered 26-year veteran and Massapequa resident who died on Friday of cancer he contracted while responding to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
He was 55.
"Stephen and I have been married for close to 27 years," said Patricia Mullen, in a statement. "We've raised two wonderful sons, Patrick and James. He was completely devoted to his family and friends, and equally devoted to being a police officer."
Her statement continued: "Stephen was the type of person that if you needed anything, he would be there in any way possible. He could always be counted on. He is an absolutely wonderful person and my life and the lives of our sons have been forever changed. I will miss my husband every day. He has been my life and my rock. I will miss and love him always."
Top police brass weighed in to salute the fallen officer.
“The effects of the Sept. 11 attacks are still being felt by first responders,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said in a statement. “Detective Stephen Mullen responded to lower Manhattan to assist in the aftermath and he made the ultimate sacrifice. He was dedicated to serving the people of Suffolk County for more than 25 years and his contributions will be missed by the department.”
Mullen responded to Ground Zero for two days after the attacks, when two planes plowed into the skyscrapers, followed by explosions and the collapse of both buildings.
The terrorist attack killed nearly 3,000 people. It also released harmful toxins that have sickened and killed thousands of first responders and others who have lived and worked in the vicinity over the 17 years since the attacks.
Mullen was diagnosed with salivary cancer last summer.
He had been singled out for commendation as many as 25 times in his career as a staple of the First Precinct, where he began after completing the police academy in 1992. He served in COPE (Community Oriented Police Enforcement) and Crime Section before becoming a member of the First Squad detectives on May 14, 2006.
In March 2000, Mullen responded to a plane crash near Republic Airport in East Farmingdale and helped free two victims who were trapped in the wreckage, which was submerged in a sump. For that, he earned the Meritorious Police Service Award.
“He’s a good guy, a great detective and a true family man,” said Det. Thomas Bosco, who worked with Mullen in the 2000 disaster on Long Island and who had tackled assignments alongside him over the years. “You knew you could always count on him. We always worked together as a team, as a unit. He will be missed.”
Det. Lt. Shaun Spillane, Mullen’s supervisor, said Mullen showed devotion to others in his work and personal life.
“He was dedicated to his family, church, and his sons’ Boy Scout activities,” Spillane said. “On 9/11, he bravely volunteered to respond to the World Trade Center. At the First Squad, he will be remembered for his leadership as a union delegate and always helping his fellow detectives.”
In addition to his wife and two sons, Mullen leaves his parents and three brothers.
Viewing will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Hungerford and Clark Funeral Home in Freeport. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday at 9:45 a.m. at Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Freeport, followed by burial in St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to St. Jude Children's Hospital.