Bob Simon of '60 Minutes' killed in car crash in New York

Bob Simon, killed in a car accident in New York City, had been a '60 Minutes' correspondent since 1996

Bob Simon, a longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent, was killed in a car accident in New York on Wednesday evening, police have confirmed. He was 73.

Simon was a passenger in a Lincoln Town Car when it hit the driver's side of a Mercedes Benz that was stopped at a light at 12th Avenue and West 30th Street, according to the New York Police Department.

After the crash, the Lincoln veered into metal barriers separating traffic.

Officers responded at 6:44 p.m. and found Simon unconscious and unresponsive, with injuries to his head and torso, police said.

He was taken to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the Lincoln, a 44-year-old man, was taken to Bellevue Hospital and is in stable condition, according to police. The driver of the Mercedes was not injured, they said. 

"Bob Simon was a giant of broadcast journalism, and a dear friend to everyone in the CBS News family," CBS News President David Rhodes said in a statement. "We are all shocked by this tragic, sudden loss."

CBS News said Simon was preparing a report on the Ebola virus for Sunday's broadcast, and had been working with his daughter, Tanya, a "60 Minutes" producer with whom he often collaborated.

"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," said Jeff Fager, executive producer of "60 Minutes." Fager called Simon "a reporter's reporter," who was "driven by a natural curiosity that took him all over the world."

Simon joined "60 Minutes" in 1996, becoming a full-time correspondent in 2005. He covered most major overseas conflicts since the 1960s, according to his biography on the CBS News website.

For decades, he was one of the nation’s premier TV correspondents in the Middle East, operating in political mine fields where TV cameras were often not welcome.

In January 1991, during the early days of the Persian Gulf War, Simon and three members of his CBS News crew were arrested and held captive for 40 days in Iraqi prisons. In "Forty Days," his book about the experience, Simon said the newsmen were interrogated, beaten with canes and truncheons and starved by their captors.

As his days in captivity stretched on, CBS News prepared an obituary for Simon. They handed it to him upon his return to the CBS newsroom, months after his release.

"It took me months before I could look at it," Simon said in an interview for a special "60 Minutes Overtime" feature.

In a 1992 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Simon called his capture “the most searing experience of my life.”

But it didn’t stop him from wanting to chase the next big story.

“I’m old enough now that I’ve been a lot of places, and there are a lot of places I care about,” Simon, then 50, told The Times in 1992. “If China were to explode, I’d want to be there in a flash. If there’s a big story, I want to be there.”

Simon was born May 29, 1941, in the Bronx, N.Y., the only child of a German father who worked in a bank and a Russian mother who was an accountant and introduced him to libraries “even before I could read,” he told The Times in 2003.

He graduated from Brandeis University in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in history and earned a Fulbright scholarship to France.

After a stint in the U.S. foreign service, he joined WCBS-TV in New York. He joined CBS News in 1967 as a reporter and assignment editor based in New York, according to the network. In a career spanning 47 years and nine presidencies, Simon covered stories including the Vietnam War and China’s Tiananmen Square massacre.

He reported more than 200 stories for the "60 Minutes" program and its spin-off, "60 Minutes II," the network said.

At the age of 70, he took up motorcycle riding, CBS News said, often using it to get to the scene of breaking news quickly.

Before being assigned to his first foreign bureau in Tel Aviv, Simon worked for the network as a national news correspondent and covered the State Department.

He lived for years in Tel Aviv, and covered the Middle East conflict for more than three decades. He befriended Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, with whom he and his wife often played tennis.

"Rabin was, I think, a real patriot and a wonderful man and a great soldier," Simon once said. "He was a terrible tennis player."

"Whenever he lost, he would say, 'Shalom. Goodbye.' Whenever he won, he would invite us over for coffee and he would tell me stuff," Simon said in a 2013 interview aired on CBS. "The trick was to lose."

Simon covered Rabin's funeral live after the prime minister's assassination in 1995.

His numerous awards included 27 Emmys and four Peabodys, according to CBS News.

In addition to daughter Tanya, Simon's survivors include his wife, Francoise, and his grandson, Jack.

Times staff writers Tina Susman in New York and Lauren Raab in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

For more breaking news, follow @cmaiduc.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

9:37 p.m.: This story has been updated with archival quotes from Simon and comments from CBS News.

8:15 p.m.: This post has been updated with additional background information about Simon's career.

7:24 p.m.: This post has been updated throughout with additional information.

The first version of this post was published at 6:48 p.m.

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