By Barbara Ross New York Daily News
A group of 9/11 families pressed judges Wednesday to give them contact information for all victims’ relatives to help fight a plan to bury unidentified remains in the World Trade Center museum.
“This is a barbaric, uncivilized desecration of human remains,” said Sally Regenhard whose son, Christian, a 28-year-old probationary firefighter, was killed in the terror attack.
Regenhard spoke outside the Appellate Division court in Manhattan, where attorney Norman Siegel urged the judges to tell the city that it must disclose to his clients the names and addresses of all families who lost people at the World Trade Center.
Siegel’s clients — 11 WTC families — want to poll other families to see if they agree that unidentified human remains should not be buried in the museum – especially after the museum flooded so badly in Hurricane Sandy.
Regenhard’s family was one of 1,103 who had no remains to bury, and she thinks it is likely that her son’s remains are among the 8,584 unidentified body fragments that are to be placed in a repository in the museum.
“In 2004, the city promised us a separate memorial, and then they pulled a switch and gave the remains to the museum. The museum wants them because it will be a tourist attraction, and they can justify charging $25 a head admission,” she said.
“Nobody put the Pentagon remains in the Smithsonian,” she added.
City attorney Ellen Ravitch argued that releasing the names and addresses as requested would violate the privacy of the World Trade Center families, but several judges were interested in the fact that the city has already disclosed the data to museum officials.
Siegel said the museum used the information to solicit artifacts and donations from the families.
Ravitch played down the significance of the recent flooding in the museum. She said it happened because a building next door did not have a roof yet.
Outside the courthouse, family members insisted that putting the remains nine stories below ground in an area that is flood-prone creates the possibility that a new surge will contaminate the remains and make future DNA identifications impossible.
“It’s going to happen again,” said Russell Mercer, whose 32-year-old son, Scott Kopytko, died climbing the stairs of the South Tower. His body was never recovered.