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Hero Down: FBI Supervisory Police Officer Yiu Tak ‘Louis’ Tao Succumbs To 9/11-Related Cancer

New York, NY – Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supervisory Police Officer Yiu Tak “Louis” Tao died in the line of duty on May 17 following a battle against cancer that developed after his service at the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sep. 11, 2001.

The 56-year-old officer was hired by the FBI in 1996 as a file clerk in the New York Field Office and joined the ranks of the FBI Police the following year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a press release on May 20.

“On the morning of 9/11, Lou was sitting at his desk at 26 Fed when he got a phone call saying a plane had hit the World Trade Center,” Director Wray wrote.

“He didn’t ask questions, he didn’t ask for details, and he never stopped to think about his own danger. Rather, instinctively, he simply rushed to the elevator, made it down to the lobby, and ran as fast as he could toward the Twin Towers and the people he knew needed his help,” the director said.

Officer Tao arrived to the site to find smoke billowing from the building.

He immediately began evacuating people, and said later that most of them seemed dazed.

“He knew they needed someone like him, a trained first responder, to shepherd them to safety,” Director Wray said.

Moments later, the second plane hit.

“When Lou looked up, all he could see was a fireball,” the director said. “He tried to take cover as debris rained down—metal, pipes, jet fuel. He described it later as something like a war zone. And as the first tower began to tilt, and then fell, he continued to work to get as many people as he could to safety.”

Officer Tao, an immigrant from Hong Kong, rose quickly through the ranks during his 25 years of service with the FBI and provided services all over the country in the years that followed.

Today, the uniform he wore on 9/11, “torn and tattered, spattered with blood and jet fuel – now hangs in the FBI Police office at our Headquarters building in Washington,” Director Wray said.

“It serves as a constant reminder of one of our nation’s darkest days and, more importantly, of the courage of first responders, who choose to rush in and towards danger when others rush out,” he wrote. “Because, as Lou would say, that’s just the nature of those who have taken an oath to serve and protect others. And Lou took that oath to heart.”

Director Wray said Officer Tao was widely respected as a trustworthy, fair, intelligent, and kind man.

He leaves behind his wife, Jessica, and his stepdaughter, Jesslyn.

Officer Tao is also survived by his sisters, niece, nephew, stepmother, in-laws, and many friends.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Federal Bureau of Investigation Supervisory Police Officer Yiu Tak “Louis” Tao, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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