Westerville, OH – A foundation that honors a fallen 9/11 firefighter will pay off the mortgage of one of Westerville’s murdered police heroes.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation will assist the widow and children of slain Westerville Police Department (WPD) Officer Eric Joering by paying off their home, the foundation’s CEO announced on Wednesday.
“I can feel the loss here,” CEO Frank Siller told a crowd at the Westerville City Council Chambers, which included members of Officer Joering’s family. “At times like this, you have to know, that people care.”
“We know their dad was a hero,” Frank said, turning towards the officer’s wife. “Your husband was a hero.”
Tunnel to Towers was established in honor of Siller’s brother, New York Firefighter Stephen Siller, who was killed during the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York City, Frank said.
Stephen, the youngest of seven siblings, had just gotten off shift and was headed to play golf with his brothers when he heard about the unthinkable chaos unfolding in Manhattan.
The firefighter turned around, and ran nearly two miles through the closed Brooklyn Tunnel and into one of the Twin Towers to help those in need.
“And, he gave his life,” Frank told the Westerville crowd.
Through Tunnel to Towers, Stephen’s family has assisted the families of many first responders who left young children behind when they died in the line of duty, by paying of their mortgages, he said.
“Officer Joering’s family with never have to worry about that burden,” Frank said. “She'll never have to think about another mortgage payment.”
Officer Joering, 39, and his partner, Officer Anthony Morelli, 54, were ambushed on Feb. 10, when they responded to a “potential domestic situation,” The New York Times reported.
“These were two of the best we had,” Westerville Chief Joe Morbitzer said. “This was their calling and they did it right, they knew how to do policing the right way, both of them.”