Sept. 11 is still killing FBI agents: ‘It’s like Bin Laden reaching out from the grave’
FBI Agent Dave LeValley was driving to work in Manhattan when he saw the first jetliner strike the World Trade Center on a bright September morning 17 years ago. He quickly parked his car and sprinted to the scene, where he scoured for evidence and helped survivors while dodging falling debris and bodies.
When the first tower collapsed, he dove into a bodega, escaping with his life. What he couldn’t outrun: the toxic cloud of dust.
“We saw him a couple of hours later, and he looked like a snowman, covered head to toe in that stuff,” said Gregory W. Ehrie, a fellow FBI agent who spent several weeks with LeValley digging in the rubble.
LeValley, who joined the FBI in 1996 and rose to lead the bureau’s Atlanta office, was diagnosed in 2008 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He died in May, age 53, from a different form of cancer that had metastasized to his brain. FBI officials and health experts say both were likely caused by carcinogenic fumes and dust after the Sept. 11 attacks.
While one FBI agent was killed in the attacks, 15 have died from cancers linked to toxic exposure during the subsequent investigation and cleanup, the FBI says. Three of them, including LeValley, have died since March — a rash of deaths that has reopened traumas of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history and sparked fresh anxieties.