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Pond Built in Memory of State Trooper Who Died from 9/11-Related Cancer

New Jersey State Trooper Bryan McCoy was remembered as a father

By Karen Knight

OCEAN VIEW – About 50 volunteers came together Oct. 21-23 to build a pond with waterfalls, a deep stream, and a bridge, fulfilling a dream of Bryan McCoy, of Seaville, who died two years ago from a rare environmental exposure to cancer resulting from his rescue efforts at ground zero Sept. 11, 2001.
McCoy, who was a New Jersey state trooper for 25 years, wanted to build the pond for his wife, Rosie, but became too ill from Glioblastoma, a rare brain cancer. 
After his death, in April 2019, his wife contacted her state representatives and initiated Bill S-3208, which provides accidental death benefits to a surviving spouse or child of a deceased State Police member who participated in the World Trade Center rescue efforts and ultimately died due to health complications resulting from their involvement.
“It took two years, but in March 2021, it was passed, and in May, Gov. (Phil) Murphy signed it into law,” said Bruno Maegerle, owner of Pond Pros, of Egg Harbor Township, and organizer of the event.
Maegerle was not friends with McCoy while he was alive, but was contacted by McCoy’s wife about buying the pond supplies after her husband’s death. He got to know the trooper through his wife, resulting in his leading the effort to build what will now be known as the Brian McCoy Memorial Pond.
“I didn’t expect such a large response,” Maegerle said, noting there were about 30 different companies from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia who volunteered in the three-day event. 
He said the companies are certified by Aquascape Inc., the industry’s product manufacture leader, so they follow the same processes and building methods.
“It makes it easy to come together for something like this because we are all doing it the same way,” he said. “We also are learning and building the waterscape together. It was amazing.”
Contractors and other local vendors donated materials and funds to cover the project’s costs, so Maegerle expects the McCoys to spend little or nothing for the effort.
The project, according to Maegerle, was something he could do to honor McCoy, who was “a father, a husband and a lover of life, who served his community by profession, led by example, and never said no to aiding anyone, anywhere.
“Bryan learned what he lived,” Maegerle said. “He came from a family of service. His father was a Vietnam veteran and his mother, a career nurse. Bryan was a kind, fun-loving kid, who married his high school sweetheart, Rosie.”
According to his obituary, he was born in Heidelberg, Germany, grew up in Egg Harbor Township, and moved to Seaville in 1990. Bryan was a 1979 graduate of Absegami High School. He was 57 at the time of his death.
“All Bryan ever wanted to do was become a father and serve his community, as a New Jersey State Police trooper. He achieved both of his goals,” Maegerle added.
McCoy fathered four children, and in 2005, he and Rosie adopted their fifth child, Sasha, from Moscow, Russia. She was 8 at the time. McCoy had already shown his “big heart” by welcoming 14 foreign exchange students over 10 years, each for an entire school year, according to Maegerle.
“Their home was always open and bursting with love,” he noted.
In between his shifts as a state trooper, he coached Little League Baseball and football in the community.
McCoy Sept. 11, 2001, answered the call, without hesitation, along with other troopers, to aid in the search and rescue efforts at ground zero. Maegerle said McCoy spent “countless hours and days there and regarded that experience as the most difficult, but most patriotic, detail he ever had the honor to assist.”
Glioblastoma makes up only 1% of cancer cases annually, yet it causes 2% of cancer deaths annually, according to Maegerle.
“How could this larger-than-life, strong man, who rarely drank and purposely lived such a healthy lifestyle receive such a terminal diagnosis,” Maegerle asked.
“Glioblastoma is an environmental exposure cancer that, while rare in the general population, is, unfortunately, not rare within the 9/11 community of first responders,” Maegerle explained. “Bryan was the fourth state trooper to be diagnosed that year with 9/11-related (rare environmental) cancers, two of which were Glioblastoma. 
“Bryan fought courageously through a brutal craniotomy, four rounds of chemotherapy, and 32 radiation treatments to his skull. After 14 months of a brutal fight, he succumbed to the disease. He died as he lived, full of love and a quiet strength no words can describe.”
Maegerle surprised McCoy’s wife with a plaque that was installed at the memorial pond with McCoy’s name, end of service date, and state trooper badge number.
To contact Karen Knight, email kknight@cmcherald.com.

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