A former New York City police detective who was a leader in the fight for the Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund died Saturday at age 53.
Detective Luis Alvarez’s death from cancer was announced by Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, who tweeted that Alvarez was “an inspiration, a warrior, a friend.”
Alvarez appeared with former Daily Show host Jon Stewart earlier this month to plead with Congress to extend the compensation fund.
“This fund isn’t a ticket to paradise, it’s to provide our families with care,” a frail Alvarez told a House Judiciary subcommittee on June 11. He added, “You all said you would never forget. Well, I’m here to make sure that you don’t.”
Alvarez was admitted to a hospice in Rockville Centre on Long Island within a few days of his testimony.
The bill to replenish the compensation fund that provides health benefits to police officers, firefighters and others who responded to the 2001 terrorist attacks passed the full committee unanimously.
Alvarez’s survivors include his wife, his three sons, his parents and three siblings. The family said in a Facebook post that Alvarez touched many lives by sharing his battle with cancer. “Thank you for giving us this time we have had with him, it was a blessing,” the post said.
Alvarez was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016. He traced his illness to the three months he spent in the rubble of the World Trade Center’s twin towers after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
About 1 in 22 men and 1 in 24 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. It is expected to kill 51,000 people in the U.S. this year, making it the second most common type of fatal cancer.