By Stephen McKinley
Recovery workers at the World Trade Center site uncovered the remains of Moira Smith, the only female police officer to be killed on Sept. 11.
Smith, an Irish American and a 13-year veteran of the NYPD, was killed in the collapse of the south tower. Her body was one of many recently found in the area of Ground Zero where the lobby of the south tower would have been located. Many rescue workers were congregated there, unaware that the tower above them was about to give way.
Smith was captured on film in a dramatic Daily News shot helping a bloodied office worker, Edward Nicholls, out of the north tower. She and partner, Robert Fazio, who was also killed, brought victims of the attack to their 13th precinct on East 21st Street, then returned to the burning towers.
Recovery workers sifting through the debris spotted a lapel badge with the number 13, indicating Smith’s precinct. Searching more carefully, they then found her badge with the number 10467.
An honor guard, including Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and fellow officers from the 13th precinct, attended the removal of her remains, wrapped in an American flag, last Wednesday at 5 a.m. during a rain shower.
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Smith’s husband, Jim, was in Florida with their 2-year-old daughter, Patricia. Frinds told reporters that he had left the city for St. Patrick’s Day, which had been the couple’s favorite holiday, because he needed to get away.
On Feb. 14, an emotional service was held for Smith at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The same day, a ferry was named for her at the South Street Seaport. As a tribute to her Irish heritage, a claddagh symbol was painted on the side of the Moira Smith ferry, two hands holding a heart, topped with a crown.
The bodies of 12 of the 23 NYPD officers killed on Sept. 11 have now been recovered.
“She was a pretty remarkable person,” Kelly said. “This is not an easy process for anyone.”