NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bob Simon, a longtime correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and a CBS News veteran of more than 45 years, was killed Wednesday night in a crash on the West Side Highway.
“60 Minutes” confirmed Simon’s death Wednesday night.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, police said Simon, 73, was in the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car livery cab that lost control as it headed south on the highway. The driver struck a black 2003 Mercedes Benz that was stopped at a red light at 30th Street, and then struck the stanchions that separate northbound and southbound traffic on the highway, police said.
The driver of the livery cab, a 44-year-old man, was also transported to Bellevue Hospital Center with non-life threatening injuries, sources said. He suffered injuries to his legs and arms.
The driver of the Mercedes was uninjured.
Simon was extricated from the vehicle after suffering injuries to his head and torso. He was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
“60 Minutes” Executive Producer Jeffrey Fager put out a statement following Simon’s death.
“It’s a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News. It is such a tragedy made worse because we lost him in a car accident, a man who has escaped more difficult situations than almost any journalist in modern times,” Fager said in the statement. “Bob was a reporter’s reporter. He was driven by a natural curiosity that took him all over the world covering every kind of story imaginable.
“There is no one else like Bob Simon,” Fager continued. “All of us at CBS News and particularly at ‘60 Minutes’ will miss him very much.”
Speaking to CBS2’s Maurice DuBois and Kristine Johnson on the phone Wednesday night, Fager added that Simon had an insatiable drive to hunt down a story.
“He couldn’t do enough,” Fager said. “It was as if I said: ‘You know what, Bob? I have a really good story,’ and it was halfway around the world, he’d be on his way before he knew what it was about.”
CBS News’ Scott Pelley also mourned Simon in a tweet Wednesday night.
Anderson Cooper, who also does occasional stories on “60 Minutes,” was nearly in tears on CNN as he said, “I dreamed of being, and still hope to be, a quarter of the writer that Bob Simon is and has been.”
Simon had contributed regularly to “60 Minutes” since 1996. His last piece on “60 Minutes” this past weekend was on the Academy Award-nominated film “Selma.”
He also reported recently on such stories as the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt’s political turmoil, and the situation in Fukushima, Japan, three years after it endured the triple tragedy of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster
Simon received numerous awards for his reporting. His 2012 story from Central Africa on the world’s only all-black symphony won him his fourth Peabody award and an Emmy, CBS News recalled. A 2013 story about an orchestra in Paraguay, one whose poor members constructed their instruments from trash, won him his 27th Emmy.
Simon’s foreign coverage has appeared on all CBS News broadcasts, and has earned him other major awards — including the Overseas Press Club’s highest honor for a body of work, the President’s Award. His 27 Emmys may be the most held by a journalist for field reporting, CBS News reported.
Simon won electronic journalism’s highest honor, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, for “Shame of Srebrenica,” a report on the old 60 Minutes II program on heinous acts of genocide during the Bosnian War.
Few journalists covered as many overseas conflicts as Simon did, and CBS News noted that he suffered through many horrific experiences.
He went through several short detentions, close calls and wounds, and in January 1991 he was captured by Iraqi forces near the Saudi-Kuwaiti border during the opening days of the Gulf War in January 1991. He and the other three members of CBS News’ coverage team spent 40 days in Iraqi prisons.
Iraqis accused Simon, who is Jewish, of being a member of Israeli intelligence. He was subjected to torture and even worse than what his three-man crew endured, after a special plea from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
He wrote about the experience in his book “Forty Days” (Putnam, 1992),” CBS News recalled.
He went to Baghdad again in January 1993 to cover the American bombing of Iraq.
Simon’s career in war reporting began in Vietnam. He was based in London from 1972 to 1977, and in Saigon from 1971 to 1972, and won an Overseas Press Club Award for his reporting on the 1972 spring offensive in Hanoi. He was also part of the CBS News team that won an Overseas Press Club award for Best Radio Spot News for coverage at the end of the conflict in 1975.
In his first tour at the CBS News London Bureau from 1969 to 1971, Simon reported extensively on the troubles in Northern Ireland. He has also reported from war zones in Portugal, Cyprus, The Falklands, the Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia and from the American interventions in Grenada, Somalia and Haiti, CBS News reported.
He was in Poland during martial law, with Israeli troops during the Yom Kippur War, with PLO fighters during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and in Gaza the day the First Intifada began, CBS News reported.
Simon has also served as a CBS News national correspondent in New York from 1982 to 1987, and as the State Department correspondent for CBS News in Washington from 1981 to 1982. He was also assigned to the CBS News Tel Aviv bureau from 1977 to 1981.
Simon joined CBS News in 1967 as a New York-based reporter and assignment editor. He covered campus unrest and inner-city riots, as well as the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Before joining CBS News, Simon was an American Foreign Service officer from 1964 to 1967. He was also a Fulbright scholar in France and a Woodrow Wilson scholar.
Simon was born May 21, 1941 in the Bronx. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University in 1962 with a degree in history.
He is survived by his wife, Françoise, and their daughter, Tanya, who is a producer for “60 Minutes” in New York.