No need for Canadian families to travel to N.Y., coroner says
By LISA PRIEST, The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, September 18, 2001
NEW YORK -- Distraught Canadians trying to find out whether family members are buried under the World Trade Center rubble don't have to make a special trip to New York to provide DNA samples, Ontario's chief coroner said.
"They're not being told not to come, but they are being told there are ways we can do it without them coming here," said James Young, who is in New York to assist families.
"At this point, there isn't a particular memorial site [for Canadians] that has arisen in New York. And ground zero is disturbing."
So far, 40 to 75 Canadians believed to have been in the area of last Tuesday's terrorist attack are unaccounted for, said André LeBlanc, spokesman for the Canadian consulate in New York.
Five Canadian families have made their way down to New York to provide information and to help locate items, such as hair, toothbrushes, razors and unwashed clothing, needed for DNA testing.
"They are devastated, realistic, but managing extremely well. They've had excellent questions and been very co-operative and very helpful," said Dr. Young, who is also Ontario's assistant deputy solicitor-general for public safety. "People report in and then we start a detective process by going out and trying to confirm that the person is missing or isn't missing."
Mr. LeBlanc said officials have searched emergency shelters, gone to hospitals and knocked on doors in an effort to find the missing, adding that "no stone is being left unturned."
Since the terrorist attack, 1,025 cases have been opened on Canadians, defined as people whom relatives could not reach after the twin towers collapsed, Mr. LeBlanc said.
That number was eventually whittled down to between 40 and 75.
The remaining people were either located by their families or contacted by Canadian consulate officials, he said yesterday.
Canadian families can gather items for DNA testing, then arrange through the consulate to transport the results to New York, Mr. LeBlanc said.
Yesterday, Dr. Young said that "everybody has been trying to locate people, call people. It's amazingly difficult work."
Family members are being asked to recall details of wedding rings, tattoos, scars and dental work -- perhaps the only things that could identify those trapped under the jagged concrete and twisted steel.
The Ontario government has announced a $3-million fund to assist families who may have lost relatives in the tragedy.
That money can be used to travel to New York to identify family members or to help fund the cost of funerals.