Hero New Yorker Who Evacuated Hundreds Dies of 9/11-Linked Cancer at 45

March 19, 2018 Last Updated: March 21, 2018

A New York City firefighter and 9/11 hero has died at age 45 from cancer linked to toxins on the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Thomas Phelan was the captain of a Statue of Liberty ferry in 2001 when the 9/11 attacks struck the city.

He turned the ferry into a rescue vessel and evacuated hundreds of people from the area of the attacks.

“He helped evacuate lower Manhattan and rescue many people to the other side of the river,” stated a post on the NYC Fire Wire Facebook page, which is run independently by a group of New York City firefighters.

“He brought supplies, rescue workers and was a huge part of the operation.”

In 2003, Phelan joined the city’s fire department and was assigned to Engine 55 in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Later, he moved to the department’s Marine 9 company on Staten Island.

Phelan died on March 16 of cancer related to exposure to toxic substances permeating the air at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed in the attacks, according to the New York Daily News.

More than 8,000 people have been diagnosed with cancer linked to the 9/11 attacks, including almost 7,000 first responders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.