"It's a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News," said Jeff Fager, the executive producer of "60 Minutes."
"It's such a tragedy, made worse because we lost him in a car accident -- a man who's escaped more difficult situations than almost any one journalist in modern times ... we will miss him very much."
Simon's career in news spanned some 50 years and earned him countless awards.
"Bob was, and I'll tell you it's very hard to talk about him in the past tense, but Bob was for the last five decades, simply one of the best, in my opinion ... at getting a story, telling a story, writing a story and making it simply unforgettable," said CNN's Anderson Cooper, who worked with Simon at "60 Minutes."
By the time officers arrived at the scene of the accident, Simon -- seated in the rear of a Lincoln Town Car -- was unconscious and unresponsive, with injuries to his head and torso, according to the NYPD.
Simon was not wearing a seat belt. A preliminary report said Simon appeared to have died from head and neck trauma caused by the violent impact, according to a senior law enforcement source. He was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The vehicle's 44-year-old driver, who suffered two broken legs and two broken arms, was listed in stable condition. The Lincoln Town Car collided with a Mercedes at a red light, police said, and then struck a stanchion dividing traffic. His driving record indicates prior traffic summonses, the senior law enforcement source said. The drivers of both cars passed sobriety tests.
Crash investigators are looking at whether the Town Car was speeding when it crashed Wednesday evening, according to the senior law enforcement source. Speed is being investigated based on the trajectory of the Town Car following the impact with the Mercedes, which was going the same direction.
Investigators are also trying to get information on whether either of the drivers were texting or were on their phones before the crash, the senior law enforcement said.
A spokesman for New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission identified the driver of the town car as Abdul Reshad Fedahi. His license has been suspended pending the police investigation.
Simon joined CBS in 1967 as a reporter and editor based in New York. He went on to report from all over the world.
Simon covered the war in Vietnam and was on one of the last helicopters out of Saigon, according to his CBS News biography.
In 1991, he was captured by Iraqi forces at the start of the Gulf War. Simon and three colleagues spent 40 days in prison, an experience he later wrote about in his book "Forty Days."
Among his many awards are four Peabodys, 27 Emmys and the Overseas Press Club's highest honor for a body of work, the biography read.
Simon and his wife, Françoise, have one daughter, who is a producer for "60 Minutes."
Tributes to the news veteran quickly poured in.
"Condolences to the family of my friend and long-time colleague," said former CBS anchor and "60 Minutes" alum Dan Rather.
"So sorry to learn of the passing of Bob Simon," said former CNN host Larry King. "He was a great reporter & wonderful man. A frequent guest of mine."
"I never met him, but it feels like I knew him after all these years of watching @60Minutes," said comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried.
"He was a warrior-poet who loved life and loved people," said Cooper.
He added: "I gotta say just on a personal basis, I grew up admiring Bob Simon, and whenever I gave talks at schools I'd always say Bob Simon is the greatest writer and the person I most look up at (in) this business. And when I started working at '60 Minutes,' to even be in the same halls, the same offices as Bob Simon, was such an honor, and it's just a huge loss for CBS and for everybody."