|Officer Cesar Borja died of lung disease last month.|
Questions surround account of ground zero worker death
NEW YORK -- A police officer whose death last month from lung disease received wide attention did not rush to the World Trade Center after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as previously written, The
Officer Cesar A. Borja of the New York City Police Department also did not remove debris from the fallen towers and did not work a formal shift there until December 2001, the newspaper said.
Borja worked traffic and security posts on the streets around the site, the newspaper said. There is also no record he worked 16 hours in a shift, the newspaper reported, citing Borja's memo book.
Media accounts implying Borja worked long hours breathing toxic dust while not wearing protective gear brought political and media attention to the plight of Sept. 11 first-responders.
The Times traces the misimpression about Borja's role to a story in the Daily News, which has championed ailing first-responders editorially and even paid for Borja's son to fly to Washington, D.C., to be a guest of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton at Bush's State of the Union address.
Jennifer Mauer, a spokeswoman for the Daily News, defended the newspaper's coverage of Borja.
"We never said he was down there before December 2001," she said in a statement. "We did report that he 'rushed to ground zero and started working long days there -- even volunteering to work extra shifts.' That is still true."