Officer Who Died of Cancer Honored in Ceremony

Sgt. Steven Van Horn, who died in November after a two-year battle with leukemia, was honored posthumously Wednesday with a medal of valor, the city's highest award for a police officer.

On Feb. 22, 1987, Van Horn was the first officer to respond to a fire at a metal plating plant, where he evacuated civilians and directed traffic away from the scene. After breathing toxic fumes from the fire, Van Horn and three firefighters at the scene were later diagnosed with various forms of cancer.

Van Horn was diagnosed with leukemia in 1995, and despite receiving a long-awaited bone marrow transplant, he died of the disease late last year.

During his battle against the leukemia, Van Horn continued to report to work despite side effects from his cancer treatments, which caused severe fatigue and pain in his legs, Sgt. John Desmond said.

"He summoned the strength, both mental and physical, to continue his life as normally as possible," Desmond said. "He wasn't going to sit in a chair to fight his cancer; he came in to work every day."

The award was presented to Van Horn's wife, Nan, at the Newport Sheraton Hotel.

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