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Charity inspired by 9/11 hero pays off mortgage of fallen Ohio officer

A foundation started by the brother of a New York City firefighter killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks is paying the mortgage of a fallen Ohio police officer.
Westerville Police Ofc. Eric Joering

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WBNS) - It's a phrase you hear often:

"This is not supposed to happen. Things like this are not supposed to happen."

Yet they do, again and again.

In Westerville on Saturday. And in New York City 17 years ago: heroes running toward the danger struck down in the service of others.

Frank Siller knows that sacrifice intimately.

"My brother was a New York City firefighter on September 11, 2001," Siller said. "He heard on his radio scanner what happened, kind of like two officers the other day heard a call for help."

And like Westerville Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering, firefighter Stephen Siller never came home.

"It's so senseless that you can't explain it," said Siller. "But it is the time you see the greatness of America, the greatness of a community to pull together and help lift a family."

Siller carries on his brother's legacy through a foundation in his name, Tunnel to Towers.

Wednesday, he traveled to Westerville to ease some of the worry for the family of Eric Joering.

"I'm just so proud to announce, that we are, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, are going to pay off the mortgage so Officer Joering's family will never have to worry about that burden. They have enough to worry about."

Joering's family, including his wife and two of his daughters, joined Siller to pray at the memorial outside the Westerville Police Department.

The family didn't speak publicly, but their grief and gratitude were evident.

Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said the family's needs, and his commitment to them will continue.

"This can't stop today. We've made a pledge that every dance the girls have, every sporting event the girls have, every boyfriend, is going to have to be screened through us."

"There is life after death," said Siller. "And I don't mean just for those who leave us, but for those left behind. And if you do good, if you take the evil act and you do something good with it, you bless others. You help others, you honor those who left us."

Siller says they aren't able to help the families of every police officer killed in action.

Because his brother left behind five young children, the foundation focuses on financial assistance for those families with young children.