Man photographed fleeing collapsing World Trade Center on 9/11 dies from COVID-19 at the age of 78
- Stephen Cooper died of coronavirus on March 28 at the age of 78
- He was photographed in a famous photo of the carnage of 9/11.
- He was seen sprinting from smoke billowing out of the hit World Trade Center
- He was an electrical engineer from New York who worked for the NY Transit Authority for many years, and had a second home in Florida
- He was 60 on 9/11 and was shocked to find his photo in Time Magazine
- ‘He would bring it to family barbecues, parties, anywhere he could show it off,’ his daughter says on the famous snap
- He had health issues and underwent brain surgery in October
A man who was photographed in a famous photo of terrified New Yorkers fleeing the smoke and debris of the falling World Trade Center as it tumbled to the ground on September 11, 2001, has died of coronavirus, his family said.
Stephen Cooper, an electrical engineer from New York, who lived part-time in the Delray Beach area of Florida, died on March 28 at the age of 78.
He died at the Delray Medical Center after catching the disease and was among the 138 people who died in Palm Beach County in the first month of the pandemic.
The photo snapped by an Associated Press photographer was published in newspapers and magazines around the world and is featured in the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York.
He was 60 at the time and photographed running with a manila envelope under his arm alongside several other men as a cloud of smoke from the hit South Tower of the World Trade Center billowed behind.
Stephen Cooper, who was photographed in a famous photo of terrified New Yorkers fleeing the smoke and debris of the falling World Trade Center as it tumbled to the ground on September 11, 2001, has died of coronavirus, his family said. Cooper pictured left with a manila envelope in hand
‘He didn’t even know the photograph was taken,’ Janet Rashes, Cooper’s partner for 33 years said.
‘All of a sudden, he’s looking in Time magazine one day and he sees himself and says, “Oh my God. That’s me.” He was amazed. Couldn’t believe it,’ she added.
Rashes said Cooper was delivering documents near the World Trade Center the morning of 9/11, clueless to the terror unfolding, when he heard a police officer yell at him, ‘You have to run.’
‘Every year on 9/11, he would go looking for the magazine and say, “Look, it’s here again,”‘ Jessica Rashes, Cooper’s 27-year-old daughter said. In 1993, Cooper and Rashes adopted Jessica from Guatemala.
‘He would bring it to family barbecues, parties, anywhere he could show it off.’
Cooper’s longtime friend Susan Gould said he was proud of the photo and purchased multiple copies of Time to hand them out ‘like a calling card’.
She said Cooper shrank a copy of the photo, laminated it, and kept it in his wallet.
‘Stephen was a character,’ Gould said.
He was an electrical engineer from New York who worked for the NY Transit Authority for many years. Pictured right in October 2019
‘Every year on 9/11, he would go looking for the magazine and say, “Look, it’s here again,’ Jessica Rashes, Cooper’s 27-year-old daughter said. In 1993, Cooper and Rashes adopted Jessica from Guatemala. Rashes and Cooper pictured with young Jessica in a photo she shared on social media
The iconic photograph was taken by Suzanne Plunkett, who revealed she’s been in touch with two of the people in the photo but she could never reach Cooper.
‘It is a shame I was never aware of the identity of Mr Cooper,’ Plunkett said to the Palm Beach Post.
Cooper, who was born in the Bronx and served stateside with the Army in the Vietnam War, worked for many years for the New York City Transit Authority.
Cooper was a beloved figure in his neighborhood of Edgemere, New York in Queens, where he owned a home for much of his life.
Cooper was a beloved figure in his neighborhood of Edgemere, New York in Queens, where he owned a home for much of his life and was actively involved in local politics to protect the neighborhood
It’s there he flung himself into local politics and participated in protests to keep the area from being ‘dumped on’ with unwanted projects like landfills. He served as president of the Frank Avenue Civic Association, a community group.
‘He didn’t get too far very often. Sort of a Don Quixote. But the people really liked him because he was there to speak for them,’ Rashes said.
Cooper had been suffering with health issues before he contracted COVID-19. In October he had brain surgery and spent more than two months hospitalized or in a rehabilitation center after surgery.
In March, his health declined again after he returned home to Rashes at their apartment in Delray Beach.
‘At that point, the coronavirus was being spoken of but the people at the hospital weren’t wearing masks,’ Rashes said.
He was initially diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
‘(Paramedics) picked him up on March 23. That’s the last time I saw him,’ Rashes said.
He died five days later.