American photojournalist Charlie Cole, who won a World Press Photo Award for his iconic "Tank Man" of Tiananmen Square image in 1989, passed away last week on the Indonesian island of Bali at the age of 64, his family says.
Cole's sister Susan announced her brother's passing on Tuesday in an email sent to some of his friends that was made available to EFE on Friday.
According to her email, Cole died in bed at his home on September 5 from sepsis related to a recent injury to his leg.
The leg also contained metal pins from a prior surgery performed after he suffered a motorcycle accident in Tokyo in the mid-1990s.
"Charlie loved his years as a devoted, truth-seeking photojournalist and the friendships those experiences forged between like-minded, crazy-ass, life-loving men and women," she wrote. "He grabbed life by both handlebars and rode it whole-heartedly."
Cole was born in Bonham, Texas, in 1955, and spent a large part of his childhood in Colorado Springs.
A couple of years after earning a journalism degree at the University of Texas, Denton, he moved to Tokyo in 1980 with a friend in a bid to pursue their luck as freelancers in the then-booming Japanese economy.
In Asia, he covered several episodes in the wave of popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes that swept the region in the mid to late 80s.
In 1986, he was present at the People Power Revolution in Manila against strongman Ferdinand Marcos and later reported on the student-led riots and mass protests in South Korea that eventually toppled the regime of the iron-fisted dictator Gen. Chun Doo-hwan.
But the moment that etched his name into the history of journalism were the protests that took place in the spring of 1989 in China that saw tens of thousands of college students march through Beijing and occupy Tiananmen Square, where they set up their base camp.
As the massive demonstrations escalated, the regime decided to crush the uprising through military action, leading to the infamous June 4 massacre at the square and the Tank Man event the next day that launched Cole to professional fame.
Cole, who at the time was collaborating with the US magazine Newsweek, was one of only four cameramen to photograph the moment, and his version was awarded World Press Photo of the Year.
Australian Associated Press