1951 - 2017
On the morning of September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were commandeered by terrorists and crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Later that morning, both towers and surrounding buildings collapsed, sending a large cloud of toxic dust and smoldering debris through lower Manhattan.
That morning, Special Agent Dennis Bonelli, who worked in the FBI’s New York Field Office, was in the north tower assisting with the building evacuation when the second aircraft struck the south tower. Bonelli exited the tower before it collapsed and was exposed to toxic dust and debris. In the following months, he regularly traveled between ground zero, an emergency command post, and his office, which had been filled with dust and debris from the nearby collapse.
In 2012, Bonelli was diagnosed with chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease (COPD) and later with lung cancer. He succumbed to his illnesses on November 28, 2017. Extensive research by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health established sufficient evidence that Bonelli’s exposure to the air in and around the World Trade Center site either precipitated or accelerated his development of both illnesses.
Special Agent Bonelli entered on duty with the FBI in September 1983.