Local Resident Dies Due to Coronavirus Complications


 A longtime fire marshal and a beloved neighbor has died due to complications from coronavirus. Belle Harbor resident John Knox is believed to be the first local resident to pass away due to Covid-19. He was 84.

Many knew Knox as having a big smile and a heart to match. He was frequently seen around Beach 129th and was known as a man with a lot to say and a story to tell. He’s also been described as a man who was “strong as an ox,” and his life’s accomplishments can back that up. Knox was a U.S. Marine who served in Korea. He worked with the NYPD for two years. He then worked with the FDNY from 1960 through 1998, serving as a fire marshal for a majority of that time, according to a recent article in the New York Post. As a fire marshal, he sometimes investigated significant incidents like terror bombings committed by Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional, including the bombing of Fraunces Tavern in 1975, according to the Post. Although retired from the FDNY, he was still conducting private investigations up until he got sick.

On February 26, Knox allegedly passed out and was taken to Mt. Sinai South Nassau Medical Center. Knox was experiencing flu symptoms. As Knox hadn’t been out of the country or hadn’t come in contact with anyone who did, he wasn’t tested for coronavirus until March 9. On March 14, the results came back positive. It is not known if Knox came in contact with someone who had the disease before or after entering the hospital.

Knox’s battle was an uphill one from the start. He was also battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and reduced lung function from breathing in the air around Ground Zero after 9/11, according to the NY Post. Knox was sedated and on a ventilator. His family was hopeful for Knox to be given an experimental drug, but it was determined that he was not a candidate due to acute kidney failure.

John Knox died on March 16, 19 days after he was hospitalized.

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Gerald Fitzgerald responded to the news saying, “Our sympathies and prayers go out to the Knox family during this especially difficult time, following the tragic loss of their beloved husband, father, and grandfather. John was a proud Fire Marshal Representative in the Uniformed Firefighters Association and served this department and his fellow Fire Marshals for many years. We are thankful for the memories and are grateful for his service to this City and this Union.”

Mount Sinai officials released a statement saying, “The patient—who had not traveled to any high-risk countries or been exposed to someone with symptoms of COVID-19—was admitted to the hospital on February 26 and did not meet the CDC criteria in place at the time for COVID-19 testing. He did have an underlying chronic health condition as well as new symptoms. He later was diagnosed with COVID-19.”

Several of Knox’s family members are in self-quarantine as a precaution due to possible exposure of coronavirus.

By Katie McFadden