Heroic first responder Christopher Cranston died of a 9/11 related illness on Saturday, July 20, at the age of 48.
The retired NYPD detective spent his career in Brooklyn’s 60th and 62nd Precincts before retiring in 2013. Cranston worked for six months helping in the Ground Zero recovery efforts following the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City. He worked on the pile at the twin towers for months before helping sift through the ashes at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.
Christopher Edward Cranston was born on Christmas Day, 1970, the seventh and youngest child of a large Irish family in the Kensington section of Brooklyn. He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Grammar School and Ditmas Junior High School, and graduated from Edward R. Murrow High School.
Cranston became a New York City police officer in 1991 and, as a rookie, was assigned to the 62nd Precinct in Bensonhurst.
“I first met Chris 19 years ago when we were cops together, and was fortunate to later work with him in the detective bureau,” Captain Anthony Longobardi, commanding officer of the 62nd Precinct, told this paper.
“I learned a lot from Chris. He was a cop’s cop, adoring father and husband. He exemplified the very best in our profession. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. Please keep Chris, as well as the many other police officers and first responders who have become sick due to their brave and heroic service on 9/11, in your prayers,” Longobardi said.
Cranston met his wife Clare Owens in 1996 and the couple married in 1999 before settling in Breezy Point to raise their five children.
Clare Cranston recalled the event that forever changed their lives. “My husband had worked until 3 a.m. on the morning of September 11,” she said. “Our youngest at the time was 3 months old. Myself, having been up through the night for feedings, slept in a little that morning. When I turned on the television, I was stunned at what I was seeing. I woke my husband up and said, ‘I think you need to get to work!’ He turned on another television as I watched the horror engulf his face. He quickly dressed and ran out the door. He did not return for several days.”
Cranston spent the next six months at Ground Zero, the morgue and the Staten Island landfill searching through the rubble for anything to give some closure to families who lost a loved one. According to his wife, “He worked six days a week for 12 hours a day, leaving little to no time for his family or even to rest.”
In 2001, Cranston was promoted to detective. He was assigned to the 60th Precinct in 2003, where he worked until his retirement ten years later. In July 2018, he learned that he had contracted colorectal cancer due to his work at Ground Zero.
“Chris gave his all in the months after 9/11,” explained his wife. “He gave New York City closure to the most horrific tragedy to hit. Yet, people are forgetting as these first responders are falling ill in droves,” she added.
On Tuesday, July 23, the Senate passed legislation extending the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund, after Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah held the vote up a week earlier. The bipartisan bill created after the 2001 attacks extends the fund through 2092, ensuring it is essentially permanent and never runs out of money. Cranston fought hard for this legislation until his dying day.
Former State Sen. Marty Golden knew Cranston well. Golden, also a former police officer, worked with Cranston’s brother Donald in his Senate office.
“The 60th and 62nd Precincts were lucky to have had Chris, and we are all lucky to have known him and are forever grateful for his actions on September 11, 2001,” said Golden. “The Cranston family is in my thoughts and prayers. God bless the Cranston family, the NYPD, the FDNY and ALL 9/11 first responders.”
Funeral services for Cranston are scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at St. Christopher’s Roman Catholic Church at 130 Midland Ave. on Staten Island. Colonial Funeral Home at 2919 Hylan Blvd. in Staten Island will host viewings Tues. and Wed. from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.