9/11 First Responder Who Testified to Congress With Jon Stewart Dies at 53

 

Luis Alvarez, a New York Police Department bomb squad technician who worked for weeks helping to clean up Ground Zero following the 2001 terrorist attacks, passed away on Saturday from complications related to his cancer, his family announced in a statement.

"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," the statement posed to Facebook read.

"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."

Alvarez entered end-of-life hospice care last week, days after testifying in front of Congress alongside comedian Jon Stewart, about his health issues to ask Congress to extend the September 11th Victim's Compensation Fund for another 70 years.

Speaking before lawmakers, Alvarez described his upcoming chemotherapy appointment - his 69th round happening day after his testimony.

"You made me come down here the day before my 69th round of chemo, and I'm going to make sure that you never forget to take care of the 9/11 responders," he said. "We were there with one mission, and we left after completing that mission," he said. "I have been to many places in this world and done many things, but I can tell you that I did not want to be anywhere else but Ground Zero when I was there."

"Now that the 9/11 illnesses have taken many of us, we are all worried about our children and spouses and our families if we are not here," Alvarez added.

The September 11th Victim's Compensation Fund was established in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks and initially paid out more than $7 billion for injuries and deaths caused by the attacks. First responders who worked in the rubble in the weeks following the attacks were exposed to noxious air that New York and federal officials insisted were safe. Since then, dozens of first responders have been diagnosed with various illnesses and cancers.

In 2010, then-President Barack Obama and Congress struck a deal to extend the fund and set aside an additional $2.7 billion to pay those people who had received a diagnosis related to their time as a first responder. Congress had to add an additional $4.6 billion in funding in 2014, however, officials estimate that still won't be enough to pay for all the claims before the current version of the measure expires in 2020.

A new proposal was put before Congress that would extend the fund through 2089 that has passed the House, however, the Senate has yet to hold a vote on the measure.

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