Meet the Korean American hero who died from cancer after cleaning up 9/11 attack site

9/11 FBI official remembered

As the nation remembers the people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, many have also not forgotten the 9/11 survivors and first responders who helped in New York City and Washington, D.C. 

Special Agent Wesley J. Yoo, who joined the FBI as part of the Evidence Response Team in September 1996, is one such hero. 

The morning of: American Airlines Flight 77, which was scheduled to fly from Washington Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport, crashed into the Pentagon’s five rings.

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  • Yoo, who was born in March 1969 in Seoul, South Korea, responded to the scene when a section of the outer ring caved in an hour after a 200-foot fireball burst upward above the roof of the building, according to the FBI.
  • He sifted through classified materials, evidence and human remains from the rubble in the north parking lot of the Pentagon.
  • Yoo also reportedly collected hazardous materials at an evidence warehouse facility, where he was exposed to smoke, dust and noxious fumes.
  • The same contamination in the air at the World Trade Center caused many rescuers to become ill.

The health effects: Seventy-four percent of responders in the WTC Health Program were diagnosed with at least one physical or mental health condition linked to 9/11, including 20 percent with cancer and 28 percent with a mental health condition, Scientific American reported.

  • Yoo was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in March 2005 and passed away on Oct. 11, 2015.
  • He is survived by his wife and two children, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health determined that Yoo’s exposure to the air near the Pentagon after 9/11 either precipitated or accelerated the multiple myeloma.

Featured Image via Wesley J. Yoo — FBI (left),  Anthony Fomin on Unsplash (right)

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