Search for missing FDNY helmet goes viral

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Stacey Sager is in Westbury, where a family is desperately searching for a FDNY helmet with special meaning that was stolen from their home. (Michael O'Connell/Facebook)

A retired firefighter's search for his missing helmet is going viral.

He's hoping to recover the FDNY helmet he wore during recovery efforts at ground zero, a helmet that was stolen when his home was burglarized.

Three years have now passed for Aidan O'Connell.

"When my dad was in 9/11, and he wore that helmet with all the fires," said Aiden, the firefighter's son.

"Do you remember when you put on the helmet?" Eyewitness News asked.

"I don't think so," he said.

And the memory means way more than you might imagine.

Unfortunately, Aidan's father's helmet is now missing.

"And I don't care who did it. They could come, put it on my front step, walk away, no questions asked," said Michael O'Connell, retired FDNY.

Michael O'Connell was a New York City firefighter for nine years.

He retired in 2010 after contracting an auto-immune disease related to all his work, in the days following September 11th.

"I had to leave the job at 33. I'm 39 now. What's to come in the future?" Michael said.

It's why these mementos from his career mean so much.

It was back in 2012, in a major burglary at their family home in Westbury that O'Connell's helmet, two of his medals, and about $20,000 worth of valuables was stolen.

The medals have since been replaced, but the missing helmet has been gnawing at O'Connell and his wife ever since.



So Tuesday, they finally turned to Facebook, posting that photo of their son wearing it where it clearly says "Ladder 142, Badge 4073".

They did it just to see what would happen.

"There was already over 70,000 shares on Facebook and it's gone across the world. We have people posting in Australia and South Africa and in the UK," said Rebecca O'Connell, Michael's wife.

"He already looked in Africa last night," Aiden said.

But will it help them recover what's so important to a firefighter who's already lost so much?

"I'd just like my kids to hold onto something, and say, 'That's who my father was,'" Michael said.

So now, they'll wait and see if social media can bring it back.
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