9/11 Hero Who Evacuated Hundreds Dies From Cancer At 45
Thomas Phelan, a former firefighter who evacuated hundreds from Lower Manhattan during the September 11 terror attacks, has sadly passed away.
He died from cancer on Friday at the age of 45.
According to the New York Daily News, officials and friends have said that Phelan's illness was believed to be related to his exposure to the toxic fumes around Ground Zero.
Phelan had been working as a Statue of Liberty ferry captain when the terrorist attack struck - in which two aeroplanes were driven into the World Trade Center - when thousands of people were left stranded.
He turned his tour boat into a rescue vessel, playing a key role in one of history's largest evacuations.
"He brought supplies, rescue workers & was a huge part of the operation," the NYC Fire Wire Facebook page said in a tribute to Phelan.
Phelan then joined the New York City Fire Department in May 2003. Originally assigned to Engine Co. 55, he was later promoted to marine patrol and was transferred to Marine 9 in Staten Island.
Officials have said that he was even credited with one save during his career.
The New York Daily News reports that tributes have been flooding in for the unsung hero from those that knew him.
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"I'm so sad! A true hero and gentleman," Maura Buckley wrote on Facebook.
"He would help anyone and everyone any chance he could. I just can't believe this and honestly don't understand why it's always the good ones we lose way to early."
Edward Fahey said Phelan was a master mariner, writing: "I was just talking to my old man and he said even at a young age you were the best boat captain he had ever seen."
Paul Iannizzotto, who apparently worked with Phelan at Engine 55, said: "Always a stand up guy, always doing the right thing, and will be sorely missed.
"Rest easy brother."
According to the Daily Mail, doctors with the World Trade Center Health Program have linked almost 70 types of cancer to Ground Zero.
"The diseases stemming from the World Trade Center attacks include almost all lung diseases, almost all cancers - such as issues of the upper airways, gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, panic and adjustment disorders," said Dr. David Prezant, co-director for the Fire Department of the City of New York's World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program.
Mark Farfel, director of the World Trade Center Health Registry, also said: "Many people don't connect the symptoms they have today to September 11."
Featured Image Credit: Facebook
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