A MAN photographed fleeing smoke and debris as the south tower of the World Trade Center crumbled just a block away on 9/11 has died from coronavirus.
Stephen Cooper, 78, died earlier this year from Covid-19 in Delray Beach, Florida, placing him among the first 138 people in Palm Beach County to die from the virus.
The iconic photo of Cooper from 2001, captured by an Associated Press photographer, shows him 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.
The image was published in newspapers around the world and is featured at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York.
Janet Rashes, Cooper’s partner for 33 years, said: “He didn’t even know the photograph was taken.
“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.”
The 78-year-old was an electrical engineer from New York, and lived part-time in the Delray Beach area.
He sadly passed away at Delray Medical Centre due to coronavirus earlier this year in March.
He worked for the New York City Transit Authority for many years, was born in the Bronx and based stateside with the Army during the Vietnam War.
He met Rashes at a Fourth of July barbecue in 1987 at age 46.
Although the couple never married, they remained together until his death in March, placing him among the first two hundred people who died in Palm Beach County in the first month of the pandemic.
Rashes said Cooper had dealt with health issues after a fall last year, eventually needing brain surgery in October.
He spent more than two months hospitalized or in a rehabilitation center after surgery.
Cooper began having more health issues in early March after joining Rashes at their apartment in the Kings Point community west of Delray Beach.
She said: “At that point, the coronavirus was being spoken of but the people at the hospital weren’t wearing masks.”
″(Paramedics) picked him up on March 23.
“That’s the last time I saw him.”
He died five days later.
Rashes said in the iconic 9/11 photo, Cooper was on his way to deliver documents near the World Trade Center, unaware of exactly what had taken place that morning, when he heard a police officer yell, “You have to run.”
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The then 60-year-old managed to escape into a nearby subway.
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.