Community News

Ground zero hero dies of respiratory illness

Memorial service to be held at Sacred Heart Church


In the terrible days and weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Kevin Kelly, a Bellmore-Merrick Emergency Medical Services volunteer, spent 18-hour shifts at ground zero, digging through the soot-laden “pile,” at first in search of survivors, and later in search of the dead.

Kelly, 55, of East Meadow, died recently of severe respiratory illness, which he contracted not long after he finished working at the World Trade Center site, said Scott Resnik, the current president and chief of the Bellmore-Merrick EMS. Resnik, who survived a bout with kidney cancer attributed to his work at ground zero, added that Kelly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Kelly and Resnik were two of 20 Bellmore-Merrick EMS volunteers who volunteered at ground zero. “There was no question that every member of the service wanted to be there,” Resnik said.

Kelly is the first Bellmore-Merrick EMS member to die in the line of duty, according to Resnik. A memorial service in Kelly’s honor will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 12:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, 720 Merrick Ave., in North Merrick.

Look for an extended story on the Bellmore-Merrick EMS unit’s ground zero service in the coming weeks.