Notable Deaths ›

Luis Alvarez (1965–2019), 9/11 responder, fought for those exposed to cancer agents at Ground Zero

Getty Images / Zach Gibson

Like many first responders, Alvarez contracted cancer as a result of working at Ground Zero

Luis Alvarez was a former New York City detective who fought for health benefits for the police officers, firefighters and other personnel who were the first responders on the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Alvarez had testified before Congress just three weeks ago alongside former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, asking a House Judiciary subcommittee to extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to help the many first responders who have contracted illnesses related to working at Ground Zero. Alvarez was in Washington D.C. just before what was to be his 69th round of chemotherapy for the colorectal cancer he developed after searching for victims at Ground Zero. The subcommittee voted unanimously to replenish the fund, and it will go to a vote before the House later this year. Alvarez declined quickly after testifying and was unable to begin his anticipated round of chemotherapy.

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Died: June 29, 2019 (Who else died on June 29?)

Details of death: Died in a hospice in Rockville Centre, New York of complications of colorectal cancer at the age of 53.


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A career of service: After serving in the U.S. Marines, Alvarez, a native of Cuba, joined the New York Police Department in 1990. He worked in the narcotics division and as a detective as well as on the bomb squad. After retiring from police work, he joined the Department of Homeland Security. Alvarez was recognized five times for excellence in his work.

Notable quote: “You all said you would never forget. Well, I'm here to make sure that you don't.” —Alvarez to the subcommittee

What people said about him: “Our hearts are broken after the passing of a real hero, Det. Luis Alvarez of the bomb squad. He gave everything to help rebuild this city after 9/11, and made it his life's work at the end to #Renew911VCF permanently. He defined courage and honor. May he RIP #FidelisAdMortem” —New York City Police Benevolent Fund

“Our NYPD family & all 1st responders mourn as we remember retired NYPD Bomb Squad Det. Luis Alvarez, who passed this morning. His strength – physical, mental & emotional — led us all, & we vow to #NeverForget him or his legacy — which was, simply, to have others do what's right.” —New York City Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill

“A true American hero who fought till the end, Rest in peace, Lou. We can never thank you enough for your service and your bravery. My heart is with all his loved ones.” —Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Full obituary: New York Times

Related lives:

  • Remember 9/11: remembering and celebrating the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001
  • Robert Miuccio Sr. (1942–2018), FDNY battalion chief was a first responder at Ground Zero
  • William Sheldon Jr. (1967–2015), ATF Special Agent was a first responder on 9/11
  • Ryan S. McCormick (1974–2008), Newark paramedic was a first responder at the World Trade Center