First Responder Luis Alvarez Dies After Battle With 9/11 Linked Cancer

By Jeremy Sandberg

Former New York City police detective and first responder on 9/11, Luis Alvarez, died on June 29 after his three-year battle with cancer.

A fighter for reauthorization of the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, Alvarez passed away at age 53 in hospice surrounded by his family. Alvarez said in an interview from his bedside with NBC on June 21, that he was concerned about leaving his children but was leaving them with a legacy that he did his best and never quit no matter how hard it got.

“I just want to make sure they know they’re going to be ok,” said Alvarez in his interview with NBC. “Let them know that dad did everything he could to help people.”

Jon Stewart and Luis Alvarez before testifying
Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart and first responder Luis Alvarez before testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 11, 2019. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Alvarez said his ultimate goal was to have the September 11th Victim Compensation reauthorization bill passed so first responders have the coverage they need, and for his sons to know he never quit working for that.

“I taught them, you start a job you finish it,” said Alvarez. “Your word is your bond. Be a man, always be a man about it.”

In the hearings on Capitol Hill on June 11 for the proposed bill, Alvarez said he was there the day before his 69th round of chemotherapy, days after he entered hospice care.

Luis Alvarez Victim Compensation Fund
Retired Fire Department of New York Lieutenant and 9/11 responder Michael O’Connell (L), FealGood Foundation co-founder John Feal, (C), and former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart (R), following testimony from Retired New York Police Department detective and 9/11 responder Luis Alvarez in Washington, on June 11, 2019. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to pass the bill on to the House floor for the next vote, where it is expected to pass in July or August.

The bill (pdf) would extend the Compensation Fund of 2001 through to the year 2090, for victims that need medical assistance due to health issues suffered after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The fund is running out of money and would potentially cut funding by 50 to 70 percent.

Alvarez was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016, linked to working through the aftermath of the attacks and saving people trapped in the rubble.

Wreckage of the World Trade Center 25
The wreckage of the World Trade Center 25 in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. (Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

New York Police Department (NYPD) Chief of Detectives, Dermot Shea, announced Alvarez’s death on Twitter, saying he exemplified the NYPD motto, “Fidelis Ad Mortem” or “Faithful Unto Death.”

“An inspiration, a warrior, a friend—we will carry his sword,” said Shea.

Alvarez’s family also made a statement posted on Facebook, telling of his passing.

“It is with peace and comfort, that the Alvarez family announce that Luis (Lou) Alvarez, our warrior, has gone home to our Good Lord in heaven today,” said the Alvarez family in the statement.

The family added, “Please remember his words, ‘Please take care of yourselves and each other.’ We told him at the end that he had won this battle by the many lives he had touched by sharing his three-year battle.”

Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund hearing
Jon Stewart and Luis Alvarez during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 11, 2019. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

The family said in the statement he passed away in peace.

“Thank you for giving us this time we have had with him, it was a blessing!” said the statement.