Scott Stelmok was a true hero. The lifelong North Babylon, Long Island resident served in the New York Police Department for 20 years and was a first responder at the World Trade Center on 9/11. He was also a hero as a high school and youth league hockey coach.
As a member of the 108th Precinct in Queens, Stelmok was at the scene of the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11, searching for emergency vehicles that were buried under debris and trying to secure and recover the heavy weapons that were inside.
"That was my brother," said Jeff Stelmok, 44, of North Babylon. "It didn't matter if he didn't have any protection or wasn't safe. He was going in there to save lives. He's a hero."
Stelmok died Monday morning after a five-year battle with cancer at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, surrounded by family. He was 45.
After beating colon cancer, liver cancer and brain cancer, Stelmok was diagnosed with a second instance of lung cancer more than a year ago. During the course of his battle, the NYPD medical department determined that the disease was related to his work at Ground Zero, said his father, Al Stelmok, 67, of Bohemia. As a result of the condition, Scott Stelmok, who had achieved the rank of captain, retired in 2013.
Stelmok was also a beloved hockey coach, guiding the St. Anthony's High School freshman team for more than 20 years. Despite opportunities to move up in the organization, Stelmok opted to remain with the freshmen.
"He loved introducing kids to the school, seeing them start out as a bunch of strangers and, by Christmastime, having them look like a hockey team," said St. Anthony's junior varsity coach Marc Sambach, 59, of Smithtown. "He had a plan, stuck with it, and it always worked . . . . In my lifetime, I have met nobody better."
Throughout his adult life, Stelmok's love of hockey and his work on the police force often intermingled. After graduating from the police academy in 1993, he was assigned to Midtown South, an area that included Madison Square Garden, home of his beloved Rangers.
Before Game Seven of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, Stelmok met Adam Graves and the Rangers star's father, who had been a Toronto police officer, outside the arena. Years later, upon hearing of Stelmok's cancer diagnosis from a mutual friend, Graves sent him an autographed jersey.
Scott Stelmok was born Dec. 30, 1968, at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center.
He played hockey for four years at St. Anthony's and graduated in 1987. He played on the varsity squad in his junior and senior seasons. He then played defenseman for St. Mary's College in Winona, Minnesota, and majored in criminal justice and business.
Stelmok also played on the PBA hockey team for three seasons in the NYPD/NYFD Annual Charity Rivalry Game at Nassau Coliseum.
Stelmok is survived by his wife, Jeanne; daughter, Ashley; father, Al; brother, Jeff; nieces Kennadie and Emily; and sister-in-law, Carmela. After a funeral at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Deer Park, he was buried at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale Saturday. More than 1,000 people attended the funeral, his father said.