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A New Jersey man who fought for first responders who fell ill following the 9/11 attacks died after being struck and killed by an SUV in a medical center parking lot Saturday, police said.

Joseph Zadroga, 76, of Little Egg Harbor, was the father of NYPD Detective James Zadroga, who died in 2006 of a respiratory ailment his family believed was linked to the time he spent at Ground Zero.

His namesake, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, established the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides federal health benefits to first responders who fell ill after the attacks in 2001.

Galloway Township police say an 82-year-old man was pulling a 2021 Nissan into a parking space around 2 p.m. when he mistakenly hit the gas, striking Zadroga who was standing outside his parked 2015 Hyundai. Zadroga ended up pinned underneath the Nissan. 


Schumer with Zadroga outside capitol

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (L) talks with Rep. Peter King (R-NY) during a news conference with Joseph Zadroga (4th L), father of former NYPD Detective James Zadroga, and members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to announce their support for the permanent reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act outside the U.S. Capitol Nov. 17, 2015, in Washington, D.C. ( Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“On scene life saving measures were performed, and Zadroga was transported to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Division where he was later pronounced deceased,” Galloway Township Police Department posted to Facebook Sunday. 

No immediate charges were announced, and the accident investigation remains ongoing. 


Zadroga at Congressional newser

Joseph Zadroga speaks during a news conference where members of Congress from New York and New Jersey introduced health care legislation for 9/11 victims on Capitol Hill June 24, 2009 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

News of Zadroga’s death quickly reverberated among Sept. 11 survivors and advocates.

“To the 9/11 Community. We just learned Joe Zadroga passed away. Joe was the father of Det James Zadroga NYPS the hero our legislation is named after,” John Feal, another prominent advocate, wrote in a post on Facebook. “While we do not have all the details and will not speculate, we will wait for all the details. We do send our condolences and we mourn with the Zadroga family.”

Zadroga at DeBlasio conference

Joseph Zadroga, father of James Zadroga, a police officer who died of 9/11 health issues after being a first responder on Sept. 11, 2001, attends a press conference held in an effort to extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act for a further 25 years before it expires, on Sept. 8, 2014 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)


The WTC Health Program was reauthorized in 2015 until 2090, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“I just want everybody out there, the victims who got sick, to have the health care that they deserve, because Jimmy didn’t get it,” Zadroga said at a 2014 rally near Ground Zero, the New York Post reports. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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