NEW YORK – A New York City fire marshal sickened at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terror attacks has died of COVID-19 complications, according to reports.
John Knox was 84 and had been sick with COVID-19 for about a week, WCBS-AM reported. He died Monday morning at Mount Sinai South Nassau Medical Center in Oceanside on Long Island.
Knox founded the FDNY union that represents the fire marshals and investigated hundreds of fires in the 1970s and 1980s. He also investigated terrorist bombings by the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion (FALN), including the bombing of Fraunces Tavern in 1975, which killed four people and injured 40.
Originally a resident of Queens, the former FDNY fire marshal was still investigating cases as a private consultant well into his eighties, according to the news organization.
The New York Daily News reported that Knox died 19 days after he passed out Feb. 26 from what initially appeared to be the flu.
The exhuberant Rockaway resident enjoyed cross-country road trips, according to the report.
“John Knox and the Knox family are in our thoughts and prayers,” FDNY spokesman Jim Long said.
He had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and reduced lung function after working at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, according to the paper.
Last week, the head of the city’s public health system warned that first responders who worked at Ground Zero after 9/11 and survivors of the terrorist attack were at risk of contracting the coronavirus, according to the New York Post.
“We do very much worry about people from the World Trade Center incident,” Dr. Mitchell Katz, president of NYC Health + Hospitals said, according to the paper. “This is New York, right, where we have a number of people who may be suffering from lung dysfunction due to their exposure. So it’s basically that people — your lung function and structure are not normal — your risk is greater.”
Many first-responders, survivors and lower Manhattan residents who ingested toxins from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers suffer from respiratory illnesses. Estimates have their deaths in the thousands.
Knox had not traveled to any high-risk countries or been exposed to someone with symptoms of COVID-19, the hospital said, Fox News reported.
“He did have an underlying chronic health condition as well as new symptoms. He later was diagnosed with COVID-19 and MSSN staff did everything possible. But we confirm his death with deep regret and sympathy for his family, many of whom are in self isolation due to COVID-19 exposure,” the hospital said.