Luis Alvarez, a detective with the New York City Police Department — who was one of the first to respond to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center — has died after a battle with colon cancer. Alvarez was 53.
Alvarez became a national figure in recent years as he lobbied Congress to extend federal funding for first responders who were left with serious health effects from working on and around Ground Zero. As The Daily Beast noted, Alvarez joined comedian and 9/11 first responder advocate Jon Stewart earlier this month in speaking to members of Congress.
As the report noted, Alvarez had undergone 69 rounds of chemotherapy but was told by doctors the day before his congressional testimony that there was nothing more treatment could do for him. He would enter hospice care not long afterward.
During his visit to Congress, Alvarez delivered an emotional testimony asking for a permanent extension of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Bill, which gives health coverage to those who responded to the terrorist attacks.
“That’s my ultimate goal, legacy, is to have this bill passed so first responders have the coverage they need,” Alvarez said.
In the days after the testimony, Alvarez said that he found it strange to be the center of attention, but continued to use the attention he garnered to fight for others who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“It’s been a little overwhelming,” Alvarez told Fox News, via the Today show. “I’m a humble, under-the-radar kind of guy, and to have all this attention is a little strange, but I’ll do whatever I have to do to see my brothers and sisters who aren’t covered, get the coverage that they need and the help they need.”
RIP NYPD detective (ret) Luis Alvarez, an activist for 9/11 first responders, who testified before Congress earlier this month. pic.twitter.com/hJCMHUpFRw
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 29, 2019
Those who responded to the attack and worked at Ground Zero in its immediate aftermath have been stricken by a number of different health ailments. As the New York Post reported, nearly 10,000 people have suffered cancers linked to the toxic dust and smoke that spilled from the collapsed World Trade Center towers.
Officials told the outlet that more than 1,700 responders have died, including 420 people who were stricken with cancer. Advocates have called the deaths a continued legacy of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
“9/11 is still killing,” said John Feal, an advocate for WTC responders. “Sadly, this fragile community of heroes and survivors is shrinking by the day.”
Luis Alvarez said that his cancer was related to the work he did around Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.