Welles Crowther, a Nyack native, had strong ties in town where he was a firefighter, Boy Scout and a graduate of the class of 1995 at Nyack High School. During his four years at NHS he was on the high honor roll, varsity ice hockey and varsity soccer.
The Vineyard Gazette reports Crowther spent summers in Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard and graduated from Boston College with a degree in economics.
On September 11, 2001 Crowther was working in the South Tower as an equities trader with Sandler O’Neill & Partners. He escaped from the 104th floor of the South Tower to the 78th floor where he found a group of injured escapees. He went back again and again into the burning building to help others get out to safety before succumbing himself. His body was not found until 2002.
To honor his memory, his family has set up the Welles Crowther Trust Fund. On the website, Crowther's story of heroism is told:
This man organized a rescue effort on the floors high above where the official rescue workers were able to reach. He called for fire extinguishers, he found and directed dazed and confused victims to the only stairwell that was open for escape, and he carried a woman down to the 61st floor, then returned to the 78th floor to rescue more people. He turned back up once again after bringing the second group of survivors down.
Eyewitnesses report that the man spoke calmly, with authority, and was obviously well trained. He is reported to have saved many lives that day.
Knowing that her son always carried a red bandanna in his back right pocket, Welles' mother believed that the description of the mysterious man fit her son: his character, his training and his likely location at the time. She sent recent photographs of her son to the eyewitnesses.
The witnesses confirmed that Welles Crowther was the “Man in the Red Bandanna” who helped to save their lives and others on September 11th.
The Crowther Family ultimately learned, almost 3 years later, that Welles and the members of FDNY with whom he was recovered, had been on their way back up the South Tower with a Hearst “jaws of life” tool to free victims who were trapped under debris, presumably in the Sky Lobby.
To read the full article on the Martha's Vineyard Gazette, click here.For a list of upcoming fundraisers and events for the Welles Crowther Trust Fund, click here.