A man photographed fleeing smoke and debris when the South Tower of the World Trade Center crumbled just one block away on September 11, 2001, has died of coronavirus
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. ̵
The Palm Beach Post reported that Stephen Cooper, a New York electrical engineer who lived part-time in the Delray Beach, Florida area, died March 28 at Delray Medical Center because of COVID-19. He was 78 years old.
The photo, captured by an Associated Press photographer, was published in newspapers and magazines around the world and displayed at Memorial Museum 9/11 in New York.
“He didn’t even know the photograph was taken,” said Janet Rashs, Cooper’s partner for 33 years. “Suddenly he looks in the magazine Time one day and he sees himself and says, ‘Oh my God. That’s me.’ He was surprised. Could not believe it. “
Rash said Cooper delivered documents near the World Trade Center, aware of exactly what happened that morning, when he heard a police scream, “You have to run.”
The picture shows Cooper, who was 60 at the time, with a manila envelope hidden under his left arm. He and several other men were in a desperate sprint as a wall of debris from the collapsing tower weaved behind them.
Cooper secured himself to a nearby subway station.
“Every year on 9/11, he would look for the magazine and say, ‘Look, it’s here again,'” said Jessica Rashs, Cooper’s 27-year-old daughter. “He would take it to family barbecues, parties, anywhere could show off. “
Susan Gould, a longtime friend, said Cooper was proud of the photo, bought several copies of Time and distributed them “as a calling card.” She said Cooper shrunk a copy of the photo, laminated it and kept it in her wallet.
“Stephen was a character,” Gould said.
Suzanne Plunkett, the Associated Press photographer who snapped the shot, wrote that she has had contact with two of the people in the photo, but Cooper was not among them.
“It’s a shame I was never aware of Mr. Cooper’s identity,” Plunkett wrote after his death in an email to The Palm Beach Post.