Man in famous 9/11 photograph dies from coronavirus in Florida

By: AP |

Published: July 5, 2020 11:48:05 am

Stephen Cooper, far left, fleeing smoke and debris as the south tower crumbled just a block away during the 9/11 attacks. (AP)

A man photographed fleeing smoke and debris as the south tower of the World Trade Center crumbled just a block away on Sept 11 2001 has died from coronavirus his family said.

The Palm Beach Post reported that Stephen Cooper, an electrical engineer from New York who lived part-time in the Delray Beach Florida area, died March 28 at Delray Medical Center due to COVID-19. He was 78.

The photo captured by an Associated Press photographer was published in newspapers and magazines around the world and is featured at the 911 Memorial Museum in New York.

“He didnt even know the photograph was taken,” said Janet Rashes, Cooper’s partner for 33 years. “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.”

Rashes said Cooper was delivering documents near the World Trade Center unaware of exactly what had happened that morning when he heard a police officer yell ‘you have to run’.

The photo shows Cooper, who was 60 at the time with a manila envelope tucked under his left arm. He and several other men were in a desperate sprint as a wall of debris from the collapsing tower looms behind them.

Cooper ducked to safety into a nearby subway station.

“Every year on 911, he would go looking for the magazine and say ‘look, its here again’,” said Jessica Rashes, Cooper’s 27-year-old daughter “He would bring it to family barbecues parties anywhere he could show it off.”

Susan Gould, a longtime friend, said Cooper was proud of the photo, purchasing multiple copies of Time and handing 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.

Suzanne Plunkett, the Associated Press photographer who snapped the shot, wrote that shes been in touch with two of the people in the photo but Cooper was not among them

“It is a shame I was never aware of the identity of Mr Cooper,” Plunkett wrote after his death in an email to The Palm Beach Post.

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