Thomas Phelan: Hero firefighter who saved hundreds on 9/11 dies of cancer at 45

Thomas Phelan, the ferry-captain-turned-firefighter credited with saving hundreds of people on 9/11, reportedly died of cancer Friday at age 45.

According to the New York Daily News, officials and friends said that Phelan’s cancer was likely linked to his exposure to toxic fumes at Ground Zero.

Phelan was working as a Statue of Liberty ferry captain when terrorists slammed two planes into the World Trade Tower on September 11, 2001. The quick-thinking captain turned his ferry into a rescue vessel, transporting hundreds of stranded people from Lower Manhattan.

“He brought supplies, rescue workers, and was a huge part of the operation,” the NYC Fire Wire Facebook page noted. Just yesterday, the Facebook page announced the death of firefighter Keith Young, who also succumbed to 9/11-linked cancer.

FDNY spokesman Jim Long told CNN that Phelan joined the department in 2003 as a firefighter and was eventually promoted to marine pilot. Long couldn’t confirm what type of cancer the fallen firefighter had.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “In our city’s darkest hour, @FDNY firefighter Thomas Phelan’s heroism saved hundreds of lives. We will never forget his service and his sacrifice.”

The Center for Disease Control’s World Trade Center Health Program said that thousands of people have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancers. Alarmingly, more than 400,000 people were exposed to “toxic contaminants, risks of traumatic injury, and physically and emotionally stressful conditions in the days, weeks, and months following the attacks,” the CDC said.

Phelan will be laid to rest in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

[Featured Image: Thomas Phelan/Facebook]