Hero ferry worker who saved lives during 9/11 dies from cancer

A man hailed a hero after he turned a ferry boat around to save people and bring in resources in NYC on September 11, 2001, has died from cancer, reportedly due to toxic exposure from Ground Zero.

9/11 aftermath

New York ferry captain Tom Phelan, one of the numerous heroes that helped save lives in NYC in 2001, died earlier this month at the age of 45. According to CNN, Phelan was employed at the Circle Line Statue of Liberty ferry cruises in 2001 when the tragic incident occurred. Phelan was on duty when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan, but he quickly sprang into action, transporting hundreds of people from the toxic area to safety.

“He brought supplies, rescue workers & was a huge part of the operation,” NYC Fire Wire Facebook page wrote.

New York Daily News reports that Phelan passed away from cancer, likely brought about by inhaling and ingesting toxic fumes during 9/11.

According to Newsweek, an estimated 400,000 people who survived the 9/11 tragedy are now living with and fighting deadly diseases, including mesothelioma, a life-threatening illness typically brought about through the inhalation and/or ingestion of asbestos. The World Trade Center was built in the 1970s, during a time in which construction workers heavily replied upon asbestos use in materials for its affordability and ease of use.

Jeff Phalen

Jeff Phalen [Photo Credit: Facebook]

When the towers were attacked, numerous toxic substances permeated throughout Ground Zero, including asbestos. Asbestos fibers are microscopic, odorless, and tasteless, making it difficult to determine how much of the toxic fibers were ingested or inhaled. Asbestos exposure not only potentially leads to mesothelioma, but it can also cause asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer.

“The diseases stemming from the World Trade Center attacks include almost all lung diseases, almost all cancers—such as issues of the upper airways, gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, panic and adjustment disorders,” Dr. David Prezant, co-director for the the City of New York’s World Trade Center Fire Department  Medical Monitoring Program, stated.

In addition to asbestos-related illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked around 70 types of cancers to toxic substance exposure during 9/11. It’s still unclear what type of cancer Phelan passed away from.

According to the World Trade Center Health Registry director, Mark Farfel, a number of people living with cancerous diseases today didn’t connect their health issues with 9/11. However, a federal fund was set up to compensate those who suffer from illnesses brought about by 9/11. The compensation fund, known as the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, was signed by former President Barrack Obama in 2011.

Another fund, the  September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, was also created to help to allow people to file claims for economic loss due to death or illness during 9/11. Visit the official NYC 9/11 Health page for additional information by clicking here.

Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more. For additional assistance, feel free to contact us at 800-793-4540.

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