Tag Archives: Richard Pearlman

Mother wants deceased EMS son recognized as 9/11 public servant

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Dorie Pearlman sat in her Howard Beach home and combed through binders of records about her son, Richard Pearlman, who lost his life in the 9/11 attacks.

Over a decade after his life was taken, and countless media outlets and some elected officials jumped in, his mother continues to question why her EMS son is not recognized as a public servant after voluntarily running to help when the World Trade Center came down.

“I know my son. If someone needed help, he’d find a way to get down there,” Dorie said. “His life’s mission was to help people.”

Richard, who had a longstanding history with the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, was photographed bringing people out of the Towers. But one last time, he did not come back out. He was missing for over a week before Dorie “knew he wasn’t coming home.”

Seven months later, Richard’s body was discovered amongst the rubble. He was carried out wrapped in an American flag and awarded the Medal of Valor as an emergency service officer, an honor only given to public service employees, Dorie said.

Since then, despite compensation funds and several awards of recognition, Dorie has continually applied to grant her son a Public Servant title through the Department of Justice (DOJ), and has continually been shot down.

“He got the award, and now you’re denying me the title,” Dorie said. “The same thing you’re denying me, you also awarded me. It’s irrational.”

The title would allow the Pearlmans compensation for losing their son, but Dorie said she persistently applies “for the principle.”

Because Richard was young—18—and only a volunteer, not a city employee, the DOJ said he does not qualify, according to Dorie.

“It was a state of emergency and everybody was called to help. In that moment, they became official public servants,” she said. “I have all the proof they want. I have pictures, I have letters.”

“I don’t know where to go anymore. I’ve applied to everyone in the world,” she said. “People say you get over it, but you never get over it. You learn to deal with it.”

The DOJ did not immediately respond to request for comment.



Plans to rename Ozone Park school after 9/11 hero put on hold

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Plans to rename Robert H. Goddard M.S. 202 have been put on hold after some community investigation.

The Ozone Park middle school planned to propose changing its name to Welles R. Crowther, after a man from Nyack who was hailed as a hero for leading about a dozen people out of the second tower during 9/11. He was featured in a documentary, “The Man with the Red Bandana,” for his actions.

Bill Fitzgerald, the school’s principal, said he and his staff saw the short film and were “very touched by his story.”

“I guess the question is, ‘Why this individual?’ Not to diminish the role he played. But the question would be, ‘Why?’” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “The concern amongst my constituents is that we have local people who might be just as entitled because of their efforts in 9/11.”

Fitzgerald said he and school officials are “really trying to do a better job of remembering 9/11.”

“We’re trying to get [the students] to understand more about what happened that day,” he said, because many students were born after the attack while others were just 1 year old.

“We selected someone whose story we thought was a little unique,” he said. “Even his life prior to that, he really set an example.”

However, after looking into the situation further, Fitzgerald and his staff discovered Richard Pearlman, a local man who went to M.S. 202 as a child and later lost his life in the terrorist attack.

“We’re not trying to insult anyone,” he said. “We want to be sensitive to the family. We’re trying to do a better job of remembering all of these people.”

A vote on the name change was originally scheduled for the Community Education Council’s (CEC) Jan. 27 open public meeting, but those plans have been paused for the time being.

Now it’s back to the drawing board for the middle school, but Fitzgerald said a name change is still a possibility.

After the school administration decides on a name, they will present it to the CEC, who will vote yes or no. If it is approved, the proposal then goes to the Family Engagement Office at the Department of Education.