In the wake of the horror of Sept. 11, 2001, hundreds of heroes emerged -- from the firefighters who charged into the smoldering rubble to those who risked their own lives protecting their colleagues and loved ones.
One such hero was Welles Remy Crowther.
On this day 14 years ago, he was sitting at his desk on the 104th floor of the South Tower in the World Trade Center. After the first plane hit, he called his mother to assure her he was okay.
His parents never heard from him again. Their worst fears were confirmed after the second plane hit the Twin Towers.
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Unbeknownst to them, their son died a hero, having saved at least a dozen lives as chaos descended.
When Welles was a child, his father Jefferson gave him a red bandana. It became something of a signature; he wore it under his helmet when he played lacrosse at Boston College and had it with him at work on Sept. 11, LiftBump reported.
Welles’ parents were unaware of the circumstances of his death until they read stories of 9/11 survivors published in the New York Times and noticed a telling detail.
“A mysterious man appeared at one point, his mouth and nose covered with a red handkerchief. He was looking for a fire extinguisher. As Judy Wein recalls, he pointed to the stairs and made an announcement that saved lives: Anyone who can walk, get up and walk now. Anyone who can perhaps help others, find someone who needs help and then head down.
A few minutes behind this group was Ling Young, who also survived the impact in the sky lobby. She, too, said she had been steered by the man in the red bandanna, hearing him call out: This way to the stairs.’”
Survivor Judy Wein told CNN that she wouldn’t have made it without Welles. “People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal, to do what he did,” she said.
In the years following 9/11, Welles’ family has set up a charitable trust in his name “to honor and keep their beloved son’s memory alive through good works benefiting young people.”