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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

9/11 Heroes: Welles Crowther

Aired September 11, 2002 - 13:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we are going to move on to our next 9/11 hero, and the a story of a man who helped dozens of people in the Trade Center that morning, a man who wasn't wearing a fireman's hat, although that was a life-long's dream of his. This man, as remembered by those he saved, was wearing a red bandana, and it took months for them to find out the name of the hero with that red bandana.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All the little boy in the red bandana, Welles Crowther, wanted to be when he grew up was a firefighter. He got his first truck when he was two. As a teenager, he became a proud volunteer firefighter in his small New York town, but off Welles went to college, coming from a family of bankers, lawyers, and writers, he too would become a professional. He got a job as a trader working on the 104th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. He wasn't a fireman, but he was happy.

At 9:12 the morning of September 11, Welles called his mom from inside the Trade Center.

WELLES CROWTHER, TRADER: Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I am OK.

HINOJOSA: A plane had hit the building, and Welles made a fateful decision to become the man he always wanted to be, not the trader, but a firefighter, a hero, a lifesaver.

LING YOUNG, WTC SURVIVOR: My guardian angel, no ifs and buts. Without him, we would be sitting there, I guess waiting for the building to come down.

HINOJOSA: A beautiful stranger named Ling Young was on the 78th floor, the bottom floor of where the second plane hit.

YOUNG: Before we know it, I heard a big explosion, and I went from end to another face down. I got up. I couldn't see, my whole glasses filled with blood. I looked around, and I said, oh, oh, all I see is nobody, and almost everybody was dead.

HINOJOSA: In shock with third-degree burns over 40 percent of her body, Ling and the few survivors simply sat down to wait for help.

YOUNG: Then, all of a sudden, a gentlemen came up and say -- I meant, out of the stairs -- I found the stairs, follow me. And he said, "stay together, don't go so fast, you know, take it easy. Then he said, you know, I am going to go back upstairs. And I realized he had somebody on the back of him. He was carrying somebody on the back. The last think I know is he went back upstairs.

HINOJOSA: Welles went back up to help even more strangers. How those survivors came to know it was Welles who saved them? They all remembered the red bandana.

JEFFERSON CROWTHER, FATHER OF WELLES CROWTHER: I taught him, when he was a little guy, you know, 6, 7 years old, to always have the bandana in your pocket, and he had it in his pocket on the morning of September 11, as he would have every day.

HINOJOSA: That day, Welles used the red bandana to protect his face while he gave his life as the building came down upon him.

YOUNG: For someone to give up his life for us, was just something that not everybody could do. To go to that extent -- I don't think I will be able to do what he did.

ALISON CROWTHER, MOTHER OF WELLES CROWTHER: I think he was blessed by God, and I think he was surrounded by a protection from God to be able to do what he did that day, and I think that that is -- maybe all we can ask of life, is that we live our lives as fully and as beautifully and as completely and as spiritually whole as what Welles did, as he did.

HINOJOSA: Welles Crowther, who on September 11 became the person he always dreamed he would be.

J. CROWTHER: You know, I thought to myself, this is incredible. He was at 9:05, or 9:06 on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, he was not Welles Crowther, equities trader. He was Welles Crowther, firefighter.

HINOJOSA: And an example to us all.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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