Leaving a Legacy

Most people probably don’t know the name Welles Crowther. He was a 24-year-old man working as an equities trader in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He is just one of many heroes from that day.

Welles Remy Crowther was born the oldest of three children, displaying his fearlessness, spirit and selflessness early and often growing up in New York’s northern suburbs. He doted on his two younger sisters and followed his father Jefferson’s lead, always carrying a bandanna in his back pocket (Welles preferred red, his father blue) and joining him as a volunteer firefighter as a teenager.

The details of Welles’ final minutes surfaced when two women came forward to tell their story. As they sat bloody and petrified — the lights out, smoke engulfing the room and pain searing through their bodies, they could see no escape from where they were in the South Tower, in pieces after being hit by United Airlines Flight 175. Then out of nowhere, a young man with a red bandana covering his mouth and nose burst in and took control. In a strong, authoritative voice, he directed them to the stairway — which was veiled by darkness, wreckage and haze — telling the injured to get out and the healthy to help them down.

Both women say he was a hero – their guardian angel, and without him, they would not have survived. They both credit the equities trader and volunteer firefighter with saving their lives and dozens of others on September 11.

Welles’ body was found in March 2002, alongside several firefighters and emergency workers bunched in a suspected command post in the lobby of the South Tower. Welles’ parents hope his story will inspire someone to become a volunteer firefighter. “If Welles’ story helps people to think of others then God bless them, God bless him,” said his father.

“He didn’t live long enough to be head of a corporation or do good works or endow a museum. But what he did on September 11, that’s his legacy. One of the women he saved said, “I see this incredible hero, running back and forth and saving the day… People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal to do what he did.”

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