By Kathianne Boniello
Astoria paramedic Carlos Lillo was assigned to a triage center near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, but with his wife Cecilia working on the 64th floor of Tower One, colleagues said he had one thing on his mind.
According to the program handed out at a memorial mass for Lillo in Douglaston Saturday, the 16-year veteran of the city’s Emergency Medical Services voiced his fears about Cecilia Lillo while he was treating patients near the Twin Towers.
“My wife is up there and I don’t know if she’s making it out,” said Lillo, a Long Island resident who worked out of Battalion 49 in Astoria.
In a cruel twist of fate, Cecilia Lillo survived the Sept. 11 attacks, but her husband, who eventually went into the World Trade Center to search for his wife, did not.
Carlos Lillo was one of just two paramedics who perished in the terrorist attacks, along with Ricardo Quinn of Bayside.
Hundreds of friends, family and uniformed firefighters and police officers packed every corner of the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston Saturday to say farewell to Lillo.
Under a gray, gloomy sky a dramatic ceremony unfolded as the mass for Lillo began, with a single ambulance draped in the black and purple bunting traditionally used to symbolize loss making its way through a parted sea of uniformed officers.
The ambulance featured a tiny sign in one corner: “In memory of Paramedic C. Lillo 9-11-01.”
A single white-gloved officer carried Lillo’s orange helmet past the crowd of hundreds, leading Lillo’s wife, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews up the steps of the Immaculate Conception Center to start the mass. Contingents of EMS workers from Boston and Kentucky also manned the service.
Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen made a brief appearance during the more than two-hour memorial during which Lillo was remembered as a good friend, dedicated family man and consummate professional.
Lillo’s brother Cesar told stories of how Carlos was meant to be a paramedic.
“My brother loved his job,” he said. “If there was ever an injured bird or animal, he’d be there taping it up. He loved doing that, and most of all, he loved you guys,” Cesar Lillo told the uniformed officers in attendance.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.