Ferry captain who evacuated thousands after 9/11 and later became firefighter dies of cancer

NEW YORK — A former ferry captain who helped evacuate hundreds of people from Manhattan after the Sept. 11 terror attacks has died.

Thomas Phelan was 45 and had cancer.

Phelan was a Statue of Liberty ferry captain in 2001. He helped evacuate Lower Manhattan and ferried rescue workers and supplies.

Two years after the attacks he became a firefighter assigned to a marine unit on Staten Island.

Family and friends told the New York Daily News they believe Phelan got cancer from toxic fumes at ground zero.

Scientific evidence linking the attacks to cancer is still unsettled. Researchers studying illnesses among people exposed to the 9/11 dust cloud have found an unusual number of deaths from brain malignancies and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but fewer deaths than expected from other types of cancer.