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Tim O'Brien, former New Orleans TV anchor & ABC correspondent, dies at 77

According to Florida Highway Patrol, O'Brien was killed by a truck that veered off the road, striking him as O'Brien waited to cross the street on his bike
Credit: PBS
Tim O'Brien

Tim O’Brien, a former New Orleans TV reporter and anchor who went on to cover the Supreme Court for ABC News for 22 years, died Monday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. He was 77.

The Washington Post quoted Florida Highway Patrol reports which said O'Brien had been riding a bicycle and waiting on a sidewalk for a traffic light to change. He was struck by a truck that had veered off the road after an accident, the report said.

In the early 1970s, O'Brien co-anchored WDSU-TV's evening newscasts in New Orleans before moving to WVUE-TV in the mid-'70s and working as weekend anchor. While at WVUE, he also earned a law degree from Loyola University New Orleans.

in 1977, he left the city for a job with ABC News. As a legal correspondent for the network, he covered the Supreme Court for more than two decades.

His television documentaries on the criminal justice system received the American Bar Association’s highest award, the Silver Gavel, as well as the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in journalism.

O’Brien was named Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at the Loyola University School of Law, as well as at Hofstra University School of Law in New York, St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami and the Nova Southeastern University School of Law in Ft. Lauderdale.

A graduate of Michigan State University, O'Brien began his career at a radio station in Lansing, Michigan, where he said he volunteered to do overnight hourly news reports. 

In 1968, he moved to Detroit and launched a career in television news. He was named a weekend anchor and a general assignment reporter for Washington’s WTOP-TV, where he worked from 1969 to 1972.  He also earned a master’s degree in government and politics at the University of Maryland.

After retiring from ABC in 2000, O'Brien worked for CNN and participated in its coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, for which he won an Emmy award.

Later he was a regular contributor to a religion and ethics program on PBS, "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly."

According to the Post, survivors include his wife of 49 years, Guadalupe “Petie” Moreno O’Brien; two children, Tracey McGee of Shrewsbury, N.J., and Timothy A. O’Brien of Washington; a twin brother; and five grandchildren.