Image Captured in a Photo
Three brothers – two firefighters and a police officer – went to ground zero on Wednesday, Sept. 12, to search for the fourth: Robert Curatolo, 31, a firefighter and the baby of the family, married only three weeks. They had a pretty good idea where he was, because rescuers had already found the helmet of the lieutenant he had been with. Rescuers had also, it turned out, found Mr. Curatolo's body, under a firetruck. The brothers were told it would be better if someone else made the ID.
Quiet Robert, funny Robert, Robert who ironed his clothes and worked two jobs. "He was the cautious one, I was the wild one; I still can't believe this happened," said Billy Curatolo, a firefighter with Engine 243 in Brooklyn.
Robert Curatolo, who lived in Staten Island, was off duty when the towers were hit, one of the guys whose shift ended at 9 a.m. He hitched a ride to the scene with a 19th Precinct car. After the first building collapsed he was seen dragging a man with two broken legs to safety, then – in an eerie photo snapped by another firefighter – heading back to the second building. That is the last image his brothers have of him.
"We always have birthday parties for the nieces and the nephews and he was always late and always – since he was a teenager – he would arrive saying, 'Hello, my fans!" said brother Anthony, the cop.
"He was always late to everything," said his brother Billy. "Except the World Trade Center. He gets there on time."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 22, 2001.