Luis Alvarez, 9/11 first responder who testified before Congress, dies at 53

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

9/11 first responder gives interview from hospice

Luis Alvarez, a former NYPD detective who testified on Capitol Hill for the 9/11 Victim Compensation fund, died on Saturday, his attorney said. He was 53.

"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,'" family attorney Matthew McCauley said in a statement.

"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," the statement added. "Thank you for giving us this time we have had with him, it was a blessing!"

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The former U.S. Marine spent weeks down at Ground Zero searching for victims and was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016. He was one of more than 50,000 people whose illness had been linked to their exposure to toxins that were released after the towers collapsed.

Earlier this month, Alvarez joined comedian Jon Stewart to demand that lawmakers pass a new compensation bill for first responders. The fund administrator said he could run out of money next year and has had to cut benefits.

Retired FDNY Lieutenant and 9/11 responder Michael O'Connelll, left, FealGood Foundation co-founder John Feal, center, and former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart, right, applaud following testimony from Retired New York Police Department detective and 9/11 responder Luis Alvarez during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. / Getty Images

"My message to Congress is: We have to get together and get this bill passed as quickly as possible," Alvarez said in an interview with "CBS Evening News" earlier this month. "I would love to be around when it happens. The government has to act like first responders, you know, put politics aside and let's get this bill done, because we did our job and the government has to do theirs."

"My purpose now is, regretfully, I can't throw the bomb suit on anymore and run around and do my job. As long as God gives me the time, I'll be here, advocating, because guys are dying now," Alvarez said.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to vote on legislation to reauthorize the Victims Compensation Fund later this summer.

First published on June 29, 2019 / 8:58 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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