Crowther was born on Tuesday, May 17, 1977 at Lying-In
Hospital, New York Hospital, NYC. From a very early age on
he exhibited fine qualities. He was always polite and
well-spoken even from a very early age. He was caring of
others, especially his little sister, Honor, and very
protective, with a strong sense of duty. He also was
tremendously self-disciplined from a very early age.
These qualities of sense of duty and caring for others were
a solid part of Welles' character all throughout his life.
His Nyack and college friends, as well as his family, knew
this about Welles. He was especially devoted to his family:
his parents, two sisters, Honor and Paige, and his
grandparents. He was deeply fond of his uncles, aunts, and
cousins, as well, and had a strong and enduring sense of
family, always. Welles began his life in Pomona, NY, but his
family moved to Upper Nyack, NY when Welles was 7 years old.
Thus most of his school experiences and early friendships,
from 2nd grade onward, were based in Nyack.
Welles attended Upper Nyack Elementary School, joined the
Cub Scouts, then Boy Scouts, played Little League baseball
and Pop Warner football. For three summers he was the
Rockland County Diving Champion for his age group, and
participated in sailing and tennis camps in Nyack. Welles
then attended Nyack Middle School where he began to play
lacrosse and ice hockey in addition to the other sports. He
attended Camp Beckett, Beckett, MA, then he began to attend
specialized summer programs for ice hockey and lacrosse.
Welles also enjoyed and excelled at skiing, tennis, sailing
and, later, golf.
At Nyack High School, Welles was a high honor roll student
and was inducted into the National Honor Society and the
French Honor Society. He was a top varsity ice hockey and
lacrosse player for 4 years. He joined a travelling ice
hockey team, the Bear Mountain Bears, his junior and senior
years. Welles continued to participate in scouts into high
school. He was also a member of Varsity Athletes Against
Substance Abuse (VAASA) and, by invitation, participated in
RYLA, a Rotary Club youth leadership conference. He was also
invited to attend Camp Sunrise, a unique and specialized
leadership camp. Welles graduated with high honors in 1995.
While he was in high school, at the age of 16, Welles joined
Empire Hook & Ladder Co., No. 1, Upper Nyack, NY as a junior
member. When he turned 18, Welles completed the New York
State training program in firematics and became a full
member of the company, fighting fires and dealing with
Welles attended Boston College, where he played varsity
men's lacrosse for four years. He graduated in 1999 with a
degree in Economics. He was active with the Fellowship of
Christian Athletes, a Boston College program that worked
with underprivileged youngsters in the Boston area.
After graduation, Welles lived in Hoboken, NJ with Boston
College friends for the first year and then in Greenwich
Village, NYC with a friend he had met while in Spain.
Welles worked as an intern with the investment banking firm
of Sandler O'Neill & Partners during the summer of 1997.
During the summer of 1998, he traveled to Spain to
participate in a summer program organized by Syracuse
University, studying foreign markets. After graduation,
Welles joined Sandler O'Neill & Partners, 2 World Trade
Center, 104th floor, NYC, working first in research and then
as an equities trader after earning his Series 7 license.
On September 11, 2001 when the attacks on the World Trade
Center began, Welles was no longer an equities trader. He
became a firefighter.
Through telephone calls, Welles was known to have been in
his office at approximately 9:00 AM.
However, he was recovered on March 19, 2002 along with NYFD
firefighters and emergency services personnel who had been
operating a NYFD Command Center in the lobby of the South
Welles' final hour remained a mystery until an article about
September 11th printed in The New York Times (5/26/02)
mentioned eyewitness reports of a mysterious man in a red
bandanna on the 78th floor Sky Lobby of 2 World Trade Center
when the second plane crashed into the south tower.
This is where Welles was likely to have been at that time,
since he was ultimately able to get down to the main lobby
before the tower collapsed.
Eyewitnesses reported that, after the plane had hit into the
Sky Lobby, a man suddenly appeared “out of nowhere”. He was
stripped to his T-shirt and wearing a red bandanna to cover
his nose and mouth, protection against the smoke and debris.
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
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 Bandana” 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.