Hero Who Helped Evacuate Hundreds on 9/11 Dies of Cancer

Thomas Phelan, as pictured in September 2017, was a ferry boat captain on September 11, 2001, and helped evacuate hundreds of people after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. 

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

Thomas Phelan has died at the all-too-young age of 45, having laid down his life in the service of his fellow New Yorkers.

On September 11, 2001, Phelan was working as a Statue of Liberty ferry captain when the planes struck the World Trade Center towers. According to the New York Daily News, he “turned his tour boat into a rescue vessel and played a key role in what’s been described as the largest evacuation in city history,” personally helping hundreds of people evacuate from lower Manhattan. The NYC Fire Wire Facebook page credited Whelan with bringing supplies and rescue workers and being a “huge part of the operation.”

Phelan’s death last Friday of cancer was “believed to be related to his exposure to the toxic fumes swirling around Ground Zero, officials and friends said,” reported the NY Daily News.

In May 2003, Phelan joined FDNY. He was first assigned to Engine Company 55, and later returned to the water when he was promoted to marine patrol and transferred to pilot Staten Island’s Marine 9.

Fair winds and following seas, Pilot Phelan. Requiescat in pace.

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