His father gave him a red bandanna when he was 6, and Welles Crowther carried one every day after, tucked in his back pocket or, when playing lacrosse or hockey, under his helmet. And so it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when the 24-year-old Boston College graduate—an equities trader on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center's south tower who had recently begun volunteering as a firefighter—began helping people escape. Multiple survivors say a man wearing a red bandanna set up triage and helped guide, and in some cases carry, them to safety, reports ABC News. He is believed to have saved a dozen lives. Now ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi is telling Crowther's story in his new book, The Red Bandanna, which is excerpted in Parade.
Crowther's body was found six months after the towers fell, in an area the commander of the Port Authority Police Department’s rescue and recovery operation at Ground Zero says was where nearly a dozen firefighters "were seconds away from being clear," reports the New York Post. As more details emerged, Crowther's parents were able to find some of the survivors he's credited with saving. "To know that Welles in that figurative sense took off the equity trader hat and put it on the table, picked up his helmet—firefighter's helmet and went to work. For me, that was an incredible, incredible thing to know," says his dad. In 2006, Crowther became the second person to be posthumously named an honorary member of the FDNY. Months before, his father found an application his son had begun to fill out weeks before his death. (The last 9/11 dog is gone.)