Charles Hirsch, who oversaw identification of WTC victims, dies at 79

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Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, who led the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office for more than two decades, and who was injured while responding to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, has died. He was 79 years old.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the death of Hirsch in a statement on Friday evening but provided no details about the cause or location of his death. De Blasio hailed Hirsch as a dedicated public servant and talented medical expert.

“Dr. Hirsch led the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner through over two decades of scientific innovations, turning the OCME into a national leader in forensic pathology,” the mayor said. “In the months and years that followed 9/11, Dr. Hirsch and his team worked tirelessly, beginning the City’s now decades-long effort to identify the victims.”

De Blasio added: “The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducts a solemn and essential role after so many of our city’s tragedies, and we are indebted to Dr. Hirsch for his decades of service at the helm of this agency.”

Hirsch, who turned 79 just over a week ago, led the Chief Medical Examiner’s office from 1989 until his retirement in February 2013. He was at the scene of the World Trade Center when the first tower collapsed, leaving him bloodied and bruised. Despite his injuries, he quickly mobilized his team and continued his work.

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