Correction: Obit-Peter Cosgrove story

Correction: Obit-Peter Cosgrove story

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In a Feb. 19 obituary of former Associated Press photographer Peter Cosgrove, The Associated Press reported erroneously that astronaut John Glenn was the first man to orbit Earth. Glenn was the first American to do so.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Former AP photographer Peter Cosgrove dies at age 84

Peter Cosgrove, a former Associated Press photographer in Florida who covered more than 100 space shuttle launches, the Elian Gonzalez saga and the presidential recount, has died


Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Peter Cosgrove, a former Associated Press photographer in Florida who covered more than 100 space shuttle launches, the Elian Gonzalez saga, and the presidential recount, has died. He died of a heart attack in his sleep on Saturday in Orlando, Florida at the age of 84.

During a journalism career that spanned almost 50 years, the last eight years as a staffer with The Associated Press, Cosgrove covered President Nixon's meeting with South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu at Midway and four Apollo moon-mission crew recoveries at sea. He was aboard the USS Hornet when the first moonwalkers, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and pilot Michael Collins, returned to Earth and were picked up in the Pacific by the aircraft carrier in 1969.

He also covered two of NASA's greatest tragedies while reporting from Cape Canaveral, Florida — the Challenger explosion and the demise of the space shuttle Columbia.

"Pete was a legend at the Cape for his space program coverage as well as a mentor to many photographers in the Sunshine State," AP director of photography David Ake wrote AP photographers on Tuesday.

Cosgrove was known for his calmness and clear-headedness when mayhem was breaking out around him. He was with protesters outside the home of Elian Gonzalez's relatives in Miami's Little Havana in 2000 when federal authorities arrived in pre-dawn hours to take away the 6-year-old Cuban boy and reunite him with his father. Inside the home, AP photographer Alan Diaz had captured images of an armed and helmeted federal agent seizing the boy from a bedroom. When Diaz exited the home amid pepper spray and mace, he sat down on the front steps, a bit in a daze. Cosgrove yelled to him, "'Alan, the disk,'" said Joe Skipper, a Reuters photographer who often covered the same stories with Cosgrove.

Cosgrove grabbed the disk from Diaz and ran with it to nearby editors who would transmit the images from inside the house around the world. The iconic photo of a terrified-looking Elian won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize.

Cosgrove's distinguishing characteristics were his kindness and generosity to his colleagues and competitors, whether it was sneaking away from a media vigil outside the Florida Supreme Court during the 2000 presidential recount to buy hot coffee for other photographers or his habit of grabbing sodas from the media room at Jacksonville Jaguar games to give to security guards as he made his way to the field.

A native of Brooklyn, Cosgrove started in the news business in 1957, shortly after his discharge from the Navy, when he took a job as a telephoto engineer with United Press International in New York. In 1962, he transferred to Cleveland, where he covered the hometown parade for John Glenn after the astronaut became the first American to orbit Earth. Cosgrove then transferred to New Jersey, where he was the wire service's chief telephoto engineer and a photographer.

He worked for UPI in Miami and Tampa before he was laid off from the wire service in 1991.

He freelanced for the AP in Florida until he was hired as a staffer in the Orlando office in 1997. During his time there, he was meticulous in preparing for any assignment, whether it was covering the Orlando Magic or working on a feature story. He retired in 2005.

"He would always research," said Phil Sandlin, former AP photo editor for Florida, who also worked with Cosgrove at UPI. "He was so into knowing what he was going out to shoot and knowing what would make a good picture."

Cosgrove is survived by three children and three grandchildren.