What to Know
- Retired NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez, an icon in the fight for 9/11 first responder benefits, has died
- The day after he gave emotional testimony on Capitol Hill, Alvarez’s liver shut down and doctors told him there was nothing they could do
- Alvarez kept speaking out with one final plea: Permanently extend the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Bill for fellow first responders
Luis Alvarez, the NYPD detective who used his final days to plead with Congress for more benefits for 9/11 first responders, has died, his family said Saturday.
"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. 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. He was at peace with that, surrounded by family. Thank you for giving us this time we have had with him, it was a blessing!" his family said in a statement.
Alvarez, a former NYPD detective who saved people from the rubble on 9/11, was suffering from colon cancer in hospice care, but continued to speak out with one final plea: Permenently extend the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Bill, so his fellow first responders could get the health coverage they need.
Alvarez went down to Capitol Hill, along with Jon Stewart and other 9/11 survivors and first responders, earlier this month to demand Congress extend the funding. He gave emotional testimony that riveted the nation and Capitol Hill, one day before his 69th round of chemotherapy, he said.
The day after he gave that emotional testimony, Alvarez’s liver shut down and doctors told him there was nothing more they could do to treat the cancer he got 16 years after saving anyone he could from the heaping piles death and destruction.
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a vote on a bill to extend the benefits -- after a group of Alvarez's colleagues went to McConnell's office and presented him with the dying detective's badge.
"He exemplified the NYPD motto, 'Fidelis Ad Mortem' or 'Faithful Unto Death.' Detective Lou Alvarez has lost his battle with 9/11-related cancer. An inspiration, a warrior, a friend—we will carry his sword," Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea tweeted Saturday morning.
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“On 9/11 when we went in, we didn't ask the person lying on the ground whether they were Democrat or Republican or any affiliation,” said Alvarez. “We tried to save lives, and that's the way it should be.”
The former Marine and 20-year veteran of the NYPD never wanted the spotlight, but in recent weeks forced himself to speak out until his last breath — not for him, as he had said he and his family were covered.
It was for the others who went into the cloud of smoke and ash before and after him, to make sure they are taken care of.
“That’s my ultimate goal, legacy, is to have this bill passed so first responders have the coverage they need,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez told News 4 from his hospice that he was “at peace” with everything, because he was not in pain and could still “work from my bedside, I can still put the word out.”
And as for his family, Alvarez had a simple message for them: He just wanted to make sure they’re going to be okay.
“Let them know that dad did everything he could to help people. And I told ‘em: You start a job, you finish it. Your word is your bond, and be a man, always be a man about it. So my legacy to them is dad did his best. Never quit, no matter how hard things got. Dad never quit.”