9/11 Hero Who Saved Hundreds of Victims Passes Away at Age 45
Sometimes sacrifices go far beyond one act. Risking your life for others could cost more than you might ever expect.
When former Statue of Liberty ferry captain Thomas Phelan worked to help evacuees following the 9/11 attacks, he probably had no idea his heroism would cause consequences that would follow him for years to come.
At the time of the tragedy, Phelan not only helped evacuate Lower Manhattan, but he also assisted rescuers by way of his ferry — taking them where they needed to be and transporting much-needed supplies.
Later he became a firefighter, living as a true hero in his day-to-day life. But his life came to an end all too soon when Phelan passed away from cancer at the young age of 45.
According to colleague Paul Iannizzotto, Phelan was “Always a stand-up guy, always doing the right thing, and will be sorely missed.” Iannizzotto’s statement rings true as many have offered their condolences online.
“A True Hero indeed,” one person commented on Facebook. “Thank you for your unselfish service,” another said.
It’s clear this man impacted many lives. What is perhaps most tragic, however, is that his life didn’t have to end so soon.
Though the claims haven’t been proven, many of those close to Phelan have offered their suspicions. According to an article on ABC News, many “believe Phelan got cancer from toxic fumes at ground zero.”
Whether the scientific research has been inconclusive or not, it’s no coincidence there have been multiple deaths linked from Ground Zero fumes to those who served as rescuers following the attacks. The Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York notes “more than 170 firefighters have died as the result of illnesses related to the attacks,” USA Today reported.
These are deaths that didn’t have to occur. These are lives which could have been spared.
“We will never forget his service and his sacrifice,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted. Though I’m sure the support and love shown for Phelan’s family is appreciated, it will never make up for what happened.
Phelan’s passing is truly a sobering reminder that the Sept. 11 attacks still have an impact nearly two decades later. May we never forget the bravery, heroism, and sacrifice of those who risked and gave their lives so others might be saved.
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