February 12, 2015
Questions swirled Thursday around the horrific Manhattan car accident that killed veteran CBS journalist Bob Simon, the straight-shooting, longtime foreign correspondent who once spent 40 days in one of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s infamous prisons.
Simon, 73, who served as a “60 Minutes” correspondent and stamped his passport in 67 countries in a career that began in the 1960s, died Wednesday night when the Lincoln Town Car he was riding in without a seatbelt struck the driver’s side of a Mercedes which was stopped at a red light, then slammed into metal barriers separating the two traffic lanes, according to the NYPD. The wreck left the black Town Car a twisted tangle of steel, and Simon, who suffered head and chest injuries and was unresponsive, was taken along with the car’s driver were taken to Saint Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, where Simon was pronounced dead. Police were planning to interview the driver of the car-for-hire Simon was in and determine whether speed may have played a role.
“He swerved into me,” the Mercedes driver told The New York Post of the driver of the car Simon was in. “He hit me and he looked like he lost control of the car.”
Simon suffered injuries to his head and torso, police said. The town car’s 44-year-old driver, who suffered injuries to his legs and arms, was in stable condition, the NYPD said. The Mercedes’ driver was uninjured.
“Bob Simon was a giant of broadcast journalism, and a dear friend to everyone in the CBS News family.”- David Rhodes, CBS News president
No arrests were made in the accident, which remained under investigation by the NYPD Wednesday night. The Town Car was so badly mangled, rescuers had to pry open the roof to extract Simon from the rear of the car. It is not clear whether a buckled seatbelt might have saved the life of Simon, who was riding in the backseat, but New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission encourages – but does not require – passengers of taxis and hired limos to wear them.
While many viewers know Simon for his most recent work on CBS New’ signature show, he spent much of his career covering war and tumult on distant shores. Simon who won 27 Emmy Awards, reported on Vietnam, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the Gulf War. It was in that conflict that Simon and four of members of his TV crew were captured and imprisoned for 40 days after crossing into the nation from Kuwait. Simon, who spent much of the time in solitary confinement, wrote a book about the experience, called “Forty Days.” In the second Iraq war, Simon conducted a memorable interview Iraqi insurgency leader Muqtada al-Sadr.
CBS anchor Scott Pelley announced the death of his colleague during a special report Wednesday evening.
“We have some sad news from within our CBS News family,” Pelley said, appearing to fight back tears. “Our “60 Minutes” colleague Bob Simon was killed this evening.”
As the night wore on, it was clear from the network’s reaction that it had lost a beloved and highly respected colleague. CBS News President David Rhodes released a statement mourning the loss.
“Bob Simon was a giant of broadcast journalism, and a dear friend to everyone in the CBS News family,” Rhodes said. “We are all shocked by this tragic, sudden loss.
Anderson Cooper, a CNN anchor who does occasional stories for “60 Minutes,” was near tears when talking about Simon’s death. Cooper said when Simon presented a story, “you knew it was going to be something special.”
“I dreamed of being, and still hope to be, a quarter of the writer that Bob Simon is and has been,” Cooper said. “Bob Simon was a legend, in my opinion. He was someone I was intimidated by.”
Simon joined CBS News in 1967 as a reporter and assignment editor. He started out covering campus unrest and inner-city riots, CBS said. He worked at CBS’ Tel Aviv bureau from 1977 to 1981 and in Washington as its U.S. State Department correspondent.
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