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Retired FDNY Lieutenant Who Survived 9/11 Takes Own Life

New York Daily News

May 16, 2011

A retired FDNY lieutenant who survived the attack on the World Trade Center and the Deutsche Bank fire took his own life on Friday night.

Retired Lt. John Garcia of South Nyack in Rockland County, known to friends as Jack, spent much of his quarter-century as a firefighter at busy Engine 68, Ladder 49 in the Bronx. He responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and was present when the towers fell.

“He felt powerless,” a friend said yesterday. “People needed help and he was a firefighter and he couldn’t help them.”

After his promotion to lieutenant, Garcia was assigned to Engine 24, Ladder 5 in Manhattan. The firehouse had suffered terrible losses on 9/11 as well as at a fire on Watts St. in 1994.

Garcia was working at Engine 24, Ladder 5 on Aug. 18, 2007, when a call came in for a fire at the Deutsche Bank building at the edge of Ground Zero.

Two of Garcia’s firefighters, Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino, perished in what veterans described as the worst fire of their experience. Garcia was deeply affected, friends said.

Garcia, a father of four, was famous in the department for helping his fellow firefighters on-duty with whatever arose and off-duty with everything from leaking roofs to plumbing. He retired in 2009.

One friend noted yesterday that a fire officer only carries a flashlight, sometimes prompting grumbling from firefighters who have to lug tools and hoses.

“The old saying is you never know how heavy that flashlight can become,” the friend said.

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