A former firefighter, who also worked as a ferry captain and was one of the many unsung heroes during the 9/11 terror attacks in New York has died today.
Thomas Phelan helped evacuate hundreds of people from Lower Manhattan during the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and last Friday, passed away aged 45 following a battle with cancer.
Friends and officials say his illness is believed to be a result of the exposure he got from toxic fumes at Ground Zero.
He was working as a ferry captain at the Statue of Liberty when terrorists hijacked two planes and crashed them into the Twin Towers, report the Daily Mail.
Phelan turned his tour boat into a rescue boat, playing a vital role in New York’s rescue operation.
According to a tribute posted on NYC Fire Wire’s Facebook page, it read:
Phelan took part in the largest evacuation in NYC history, as he helped evacuate lower Manhattan & rescue many people to the other side of the river.
He brought supplies, rescue workers & was a huge part of the operation. He went on to join the FDNY assigned to Engine 55 then eventually making his way back to the waterways into Marine 9.
Afterwards, he went on to join the FDNY in May 2003.
Since the announcement of his death, tributes have been pouring in for him.
One person, Maura Buckley wrote:
I’m so sad! A true hero and gentleman.
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 too early.
Paul Iannizzotto worked with Phelan at Engine 55 and said:
I remember him for being a stand up guy, always doing the right thing and will be sorely missed. Rest easy brother.
Edward Fahey was another, praising him for being a master mariner, adding:
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.
The estimated 40,000 people who survived the 9/11 atrocities are now said to be battling a deadly disease caused by exposure to the toxins emitted from Ground Zero.
According to medical experts from the World Trade Center Health Program, almost 70 types of cancer have been linked to the tragic site.
Dr. David Prezant, co-director for the Fire Department of the City of New York’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program, said:
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.
Mark Farfel, director of the World Trade Center Health Registry, added:
Many people don’t connect the symptoms they have today to September 11.
The 9/11 attacks occurred in 2011 and killed 2,996 people.