Man in famous 9/11 photo dies from COVID

Stephen Cooper, far left, has died from coronavirus.
Stephen Cooper, far left, has died from coronavirus.

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

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 on 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 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York.

"He didn't 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.

Australian Associated Press