Families Cope With Tragic Loss Of 2 First Responders Lost Post-9/11
When terror pierced a sunny beautiful Tuesday morning in 2001, it tore 2,753 people from us. That toll, however, was just a beginning. This is the story of two First Responders – one FDNY, the other, NYPD – for whom 9/11 may have been the beginning of their end.

Susan Eckman of Bayshore, Long Island was a month pregnant with her daughter Tiffany when the twin towers came crashing down. Her husband, James Manganaro, a firefighter at Engine 319 in Maspeth, Queens, rushed to the pile. She says when he came home, he was never the same, "He told me stories, I mean, body parts, things that he saw, he said you could never ever forget. It was worse than anybody could even imagine."

She says friendliness turned to fury; working on the house turned to always working. He was combative; doctors prescribed medication, they had tough times. Fast forward to December, 2004.

"He came home the next day, fought with me and went down in the garage and pulled the trigger and that was the last time we saw him."

Nancy Jokipii and her husband Ture lived with their son and daughter in their dream house in Huntington, Long Island. Tori worked long hours as a NYC cop in the Manhattan South.patrol borough. Then, 9/11 came. He ran right to Ground Zero. "He was down there 12 hours a day for about 4 months, he worked very hard."

When he returned, he too seemed to change. Nancy says Ture left work suddenly at the end of 2003. He seemed withdrawn, even frightened. The family got ready to move south. Then, she says the family man did an about-face, said he wanted to go back to the NYPD. On the morning of April 5th 2004, he left to go to work but Nancy says he didn't look right, "I said what's wrong, what's wrong. I followed him out of the house, asking him what's wrong. He jumped in the car and he took off and that was the last time I saw of him believe it or not."

Nancy says cops found Ture's body hours later, shot to death in his car in a parking lot at a Nassau County gas station. They ruled it a suicide. But for 7 years, it just hasn't added up to the Jokipii's, "I'd like to have some answers for my children. I'd like to have some closure. It drives you crazy every day you wake up and there's no note, no note, there was no blood on his hands, for him to be found shot in the stomach is a very strange thing for a NYC Police Sergeant."

The children of these two fallen heroes are still grappling with the loss of their fathers. Eckman's daughter Tiffany is now 10. She keeps a gold miniature badge along with an angel in her room." Susan says, "She wasn't a happy kid and only recently she's been coming out of her shell and thank God for that." The single mom credits time, her fiancé Dan, and her little bunny called Midnight.

But at the Jokipii home, while time moves forward, it seems they can't - not without answers. Nancy explains, "It's a sad thing to me because I don't have any closure, my children had no closure and what that does to your family is horrible." She's put a lot of time, energy, and money into searching for answers.

Eric Jokipii was 7 when his dad died; now he's starting college. He says it's tough missing his dad on special occasions, but also, for everyday things like dinners and chats, "You think about it a lot, but you go on thinking your dad would want you to go on with a positive attitude. And you think maybe one day you'll get answers."

For both Eckman and Jokipii, it's been tough holding onto the house, and health care is a problem. Both families hold reminders dear. They also hang on to the belief these fathers were heroes, no matter how they died. Nancy explains, "This man was a hero as far as I was concerned, and I always tell my children to look at him as a hero. He devoted his life to the city of New York."

While they are coping in different ways, both women have questions about how their husbands' employers – the FDNY and NYPD treated them. And both women feel that if 9/11 didn't happen, they might be telling a very different story today.