Friends of Manhattan fire victims start petition, fund

Michael Todd Cohen & Daniel McClung
Michael Todd Cohen and Daniel McClung on their wedding day, July 13, 2013. (Photo: Javier Morgado)

Friends of a Manhattan man who lost his husband and was critically injured in a three-alarm fire on Sunday are working to create positive change in the wake of tragedy.

The blaze broke out inside an apartment on the 20th floor of The Strand, located at 500 W. 43rd Street, just after 11 a.m. on Sunday, authorities said.

Michael Todd Cohen and his recently wedded husband Daniel McClung, who lived on the 38th floor, were trying to escape through a stairwell when they became trapped in smoke. Firefighters found the couple on the 31st floor.

McClung, 27, died and Cohen, 32, was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital where he still remains.

An overloaded power strip sparked the fire and quickly engulfed the apartment, fire officials said. The tenant of the apartment was not home when the fire started.

Javier Morgado, a close friend of the couple, said tragedies like these could be prevented.

He began an online petition calling on the city to add a public address system in stairwells so that the fire department and building management can communicate with residents in emergency situations.

“The purpose of the petition is to have some good, something positive come out of this tragedy,” Morgado said.

Nearly 1,300 people had signed the petition by Wednesday evening.

In addition to the petition, friends and colleagues have been pouring in donations to an online fund.

The fund was created for Cohen, who works as a web TV producer, on behalf of the International Web Academy of Web Television. Though it had an original goal to raise $10,000, more than $50,000 was donated as of Wednesday evening.

Family and close friends of Cohen and McClung released this statement:

“Words cannot express the magnitude of our grief over this tragedy. As we mourn the loss of Daniel, we simultaneously are surrounding Michael with love, light and support.

“Thank you for the amazing outpouring of love, support and concern. As Michael begins the long road to physical and emotional recovery, we ask for privacy and respect during this impossibly difficult time.”

McClung was a playwright who worked as a production assistant at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in the West Village. He and Cohen were in a relationship for more than four years and were married on July 13 last year.

Morgado described the couple as “inseparable.”

“They were the kind of people, when you hung out with one of them, you hung out with both of them,” he said.

He added that both were caring people who always gave back to their communities.

“That’s why so many of us are trying to help and give back to them,” Morgado said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…