The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's World Trade Center Health Program strongly believes that the spike in cancer diagnoses among these groups of people is the result of exposure to carcinogens and pollutants in the aftermath of the attacks.
It has been eighteen years since the world wept with America during the tragic attack that took place on September 11, 2001. For then 28-year-old Thomas Phelan, that Tuesday started out as any normal day. Phelan was a Circle Line Statue of Liberty ferry cruise captain, according to CBS News. When his day started, he had no idea that he would, in just a matter of hours, be hailed a hero for saving hundreds of lives after 19 men hijacked four airplanes, and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. To this date, 9/11 remains one of the nation's darkest days.
Phelan was just one of the many selfless individuals who helped evacuate people from Lower Manhattan after the terror attack. He is said to have loaded people into his ferry so that he could transport them to safety. But, while he was getting others to safety, little did he know that he was putting himself in harm's way. He brought supplies, rescue workers & was a huge part of the operation, according to a post on the NYC Fire Wire Facebook page.
More than 2,977 people were killed in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the planes crashed. However, to date, the death toll seems to be rising. Phelan, who later went on to become a city firefighter before getting promoted to marine pilot, was among the thousands of people, including those who lived, worked, or studied nearby, first responders, volunteers, and cleanup workers, who have since been diagnosed with cancer that link back to the 9/11 attacks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's World Trade Center Health Program strongly believes that the spike in cancer diagnoses among these groups of people is the result of exposure to carcinogens and pollutants in the aftermath of the attacks. Unfortunately, Phelan lost his battle to the disease at the age of 45 on March 16, 2018. The Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York says more than 170 firefighters have died as the result of illnesses related to the World Trade Center attacks, according to CBS New York.
Paul Iannizzotto, who once worked in the same firehouse as Phelan wrote on Facebook that his former colleague was: Always a stand-up guy, always doing the right thing, and will be sorely missed. Rest easy brother. A similar sentiment was echoed by Maura Buckley, who wrote on the NYC Fire Wire Facebook page: I'm so sad! A true hero and gentleman," she wrote. "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.