Funeral held for NYPD officer who died from 9/11 illness

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MELVILLE -

A first responder during the Sept. 11 attacks in Manhattan was laid to rest Wednesday after contracting a 9/11-related illness.

NYPD Officer Mark Natale, 55, of South Huntington, died from a brain tumor linked to toxins at Ground Zero. Services were held at St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church in Melville.

Natale is survived by his wife, Mayra, his son Dominick, and his daughters Catherine and Lauren.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Natale helped hundreds of people flee Manhattan after the World Trade Center collapsed. For days, he stood guard at Ground Zero with only a painter's mask for protection from the air.

According to the FealGood Foundation, more than 2,000 first responders have died from 9/11-related illnesses.

“The numbers seem to be growing. I personally been to four hospitals in the last week, visiting people in hospice. This is sad and it is not getting better for us,” says John Feal.

Natale retired in 2005 after 20 years on the force. He then worked as a school security guard at Walt Whitman High School in South Huntington.

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