New Yorker finds niche cleaning up grisly scenes

Shanghai Star. 2005-02-24

RON Gospodarski has made a career cleaning up after other people ?their blood, brain matter and body parts.

Gospodarski owns Bio-Recovery, a business that cleans crime, trauma and biohazard scenes in New York City and surrounding areas.

An emergency medical technician in the city for more than two decades, Gospodarski established Bio-Recovery nine years ago as an outgrowth of his old job, in which he would be among the first to arrive at a messy scene of tragedy.

¡°People would ask us who we could get to clean this up and we never knew anyone,?said Gospodarski, 43. ¡°I did some research and found out no one was doing this here so I figured, let¡¯s do something.?

His company, based in Long Island City, New York, charges customers US$600 and up, depending on the job. Families and property owners find him through funeral directors, the telephone book and the Internet. The police are forbidden to make such referrals.

Gospodarski and more than a dozen employees ?all with backgrounds as firefighters, police officers or in other emergency services ?arrive at a scene after the police finish collecting evidence.

Dressed in chemical-resistant blue suits, full-face respirators, gloves and boots, they meticulously scrub away blood, brain matter and other body fluids and parts following suicides, homicides and other traumatic events.

Tough task

¡°We¡¯re helping people during a tragic time when they¡¯re left with something like this,?said Gospodarski, who has a master¡¯s degree in biology. ¡°We¡¯re there to do a job and we can¡¯t get too emotional, because that gets in the way.?

Gospodarski, who says he works 10 to 15 hours a day, has cleaned up after stabbings, hangings and fatal work accidents.

Toughest to take, he says, are suicides of young people.

¡°You¡¯re usually in their bedrooms and you¡¯re looking at pictures of them and you see how they live and you think: ¡®What would make someone go this far to do this?¡±¡¯

Bio-Recovery has cleaned up after some of New York¡¯s most sensational and headline-grabbing murder cases.

In 2000, the company cleaned a Wendy¡¯s fast-food restaurant in Flushing, Queens, where seven people were shot execution-style inside the walk-in refrigerator. Five died.

Human nature

By the time Gospodarski¡¯s group arrived, the entrance to the restaurant had been transformed into a shrine, adorned with votive candles, flower bouquets and sympathy notes.

Inside, the food contents of the walk-in had been left to spoil and the walls and floor were splattered with blood.

Bio-Recovery scrubbed and disinfected the apartment above the Carnegie Deli in New York¡¯s theatre district following a highly publicized triple homicide in 2001.

Gospodarski¡¯s group also helped clean up after letters containing anthrax were received at the New York offices of ABC News and the New York Post.

¡°We¡¯ve run the gamut and we¡¯ve seen everything,?he said. ¡°I wouldn¡¯t say I¡¯m desensitized to this, but you do get used to it.?

The grim and gruesome job has its rewards, he says.

¡°The greatest satisfaction of the job is when the families call up and say thank you and that we really made a difference,?he said. ¡°We get calls from the poorest to the richest who say that we¡¯ve done a wonderful job and we appreciate it. That means a lot.?

The job also gives some insights into human nature.

He recalled being stopped by an onlooker as he cleaned up a building in Manhattan¡¯s East Village where an elderly person had died of natural causes and body fluids dripped through six apartments before the corpse was discovered.

¡°It¡¯s inevitable; someone will stick their head in and say, ¡®Are they going to rent this?¡±¡¯ he said. ¡°It¡¯s amazing.?

(Agencies via Xinhua)

Copyright by Shanghai Star.