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Supervisor shares personal memories of 9/11 at Calverton ceremony

The images of 9/11 remain fresh in Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar’s memory.

She was a sergeant in the New York Police Department on Sept. 11, 2001 and experienced the horrors of that day up close.

“Unfortunately, I was right across the street when the first plane hit,” she said in an interview at the 9/11 Memorial in Calverton, where the Town Board held a brief ceremony Friday.

“I lived through it for three days,” she said. “All of the senses came into play. The smoke, the smell and hearing bodies hit the ground. People just perished all over.”

She said police tried to assist as much as possible.

See also: 9/11 ‘Survivor Tree’ planted in Riverhead

Ms. Aguiar said she suffered burned lungs, as many people did at the time, and was treated at a hospital and released, and prescribed asthma medication which she still takes today. She is required to get X-rays every six months, she said, and “constantly” gets pneumonia.

The heat resulted from a big smoke wave that occurred when the second tower came down, she said. 

“During the course of my 20-year career with NYPD, my counterparts and I trained for many hours in every type of emergency response, from crisis intervention to large scale acts of terrorism,” she said in a prepared statement Friday. “No amount of training could have prepared any of us for the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.”

The Town Board members were the only ones at the brief ceremony, which was held at a memorial on the corner of Riley Avenue and Edwards Avenue that resident Hal Lindstrom spearheaded many years ago. 

“Three thousand men and women left their homes on a beautiful, clear September morning not knowing they would never see their loved ones again,” Ms. Aguiar said. “Many others left their homes as ordinary citizens, only to perish hours later as heroes helping others evacuate.” 

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller also read from a 9/11 prayer from Brother Darrell Burns.

“Enable us, Dear God, to put an end to fear, by solving to live lives that are based on respect for one another,” the prayer read.