The terrorist attacks on September 11th may have happened close to 20 years ago, but the effects of this day are still taking their toll. Today, we honor Thomas Phelan, a brave 9/11 firefighter who died at 45 years old from cancer. Phelan was an unlikely hero who stepped up to do what was right. His story of courage is incredibly inspiring.
On 9/11, Phelan was a New York ferry captain working for Circle Line Statue of Liberty ferry cruises. On the day the twin towers were hit, Phelan helped ferry people from Lower Manhattan to safety during the largest evacuation in the city’s history. Two years later, in 2003, Phelan joined the fire department as a firefighter, and he was eventually promoted to marine pilot, according to FDNY spokesman Jim Long.
Phelan died of cancer on Friday. While Long did not specify the type of cancer, it’s believed that Phelan became affected as a result of 9/11. Phelan is one of thousands of people who have been diagnosed with cancers that have been linked to the 9/11 attacks and the carcinogens they released into the air. Victims include those who helped during the aftermath, such as first responders, emergency responders, recovery and cleanup workers, and volunteers. It’s devastating to hear that these courageous people suffered this fate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio sent out a tweet to honor Phelan:
The NYC Fire Wire Facebook page also shared the announcement of Phelan’s death, and many left comments in mourning. Nicole Maresca said,
Donald Pantina wrote, “A friend to many…a hero to all. Am proud to say I worked with him and I could call him friend. Rest In Peace Tommy.”
Our hearts go out to Phelan’s family and friends. We hope for the best for everyone during this difficult time.