Thomas Phelan was working as a New York ferry captain when the World Trade Center was struck on September 11, 2001. The 45-year-old, who was hailed a hero after saving hundreds of lives, died on Friday from cancer believed to be linked to the 9/11 attacks.
Here’s what you need to know about Thomas Phelan:
1. He Died of Cancer That Is Believed to Be Related to the Fumes from Ground Zero
Friends and officials tell the New York Daily News that Phelan’s illness was “related to his exposure to the toxic fumes swirling around Ground Zero.”
Fox News reports that Phelan is one of more than 170 people who is believed to have died as a result of an illness related to the 9/11 attacks.
2. He Was a Ferry Captain Turned New York City Firefighter
When the Twin Towers were hit in 2001, Phelan was working for the Circle Line Statue of Liberty ferry cruises. In a statement, FDNY spokesman Jim Long told CNN that Phelan helped rescue hundreds of people by ferrying them from Lower Manhattan.
In 2003, Phelan joined the FDNY. He was initially signed to Engine Co. 55, but eventually was promoted to marine patrol. He was then transferred to Marine 9 in Staten Island, according to the New York Daily News.
3. Friends Describe Him as a ‘Stand up Guy’ Who Would ‘Help Anyone and Everyone’
Friends and family of Phelan spoke highly of his character. “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.”
4. The Funeral Is Scheduled for Tuesday March 18
Phelan’s funeral has been set for Tuesday, March 20, at 11 am at St. Michael’s Church in Brooklyn, New York. For more information on the funeral services, click here.
5. Thousands of People Have Flocked to Social Media to Praise Phelan’s Heroism
Over 52,000 people have shared Fox’s story of Phelan on Facebook. One man wrote, “He was put here for this reason. To be a hero, A true American hero!” Another commented, “RIP Mr. Phelan. I wager that had you known the dangers of toxins, you would have still made the rescues! A TRUE Hero!”