Vigil held for victims of bike path attack
NEW YORK (AP) — The eight people who were killed when a rental truck barreled down a Manhattan bike path were remembered Thursday night at a vigil and memorial march.
"It's just a reminder, for every horrible person, there's thousands and thousands of good people who really care out there," said Jessica Eckardt, 22, a dancer who lives in the city's West Village neighborhood. "The sense of community is so important right now."
Eckardt joined about 100 mourners carrying candles as they walked on the promenade next to the route where suspect Sayfullo Saipov entered the bike path and drove for almost a mile before crashing into a school bus.
Mike Novogratz, chairman of the board of Hudson River Park Friends, which organized the event, said the impetus to do the vigil came from board members, including one who was a neighbor of one the victims who was killed. He said the goal was to remember those who were lost, as well as reclaim the outdoor area from violence.
"It could have been any of us," he said of those who were killed. "We're not going to let a terrorist, a crazy man, ruin the space."
Carrie Bertuccio, who lives in nearby Battery Park City, came with her two boys, Luca, 8 and Matthew, 6.
"I thought it was important they see the good side of the community and the city because it was very traumatic what happened," said Bertuccio,
Five of the victims were part of a larger, close-knit group of friends who had graduated together from a school in Argentina in 1987. The overall group of 10, most of them working as architects, regularly got together. During this trip, they were supposed to tour through Boston and New York.
They had been riding their bicycles when they were hit. Those killed included Hernan Diego Mendoza, Ariel Erlij, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco and Hernan Ferruchi.
Ann-Laure Decadt had come to New York City from Belgium, where the 31-year-old mother of a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old was part of a well-known family in her rural town. Her family said she had been hit from behind on the bicycle she was riding.
The Americans included software engineer Nicholas Cleves, 23, of Manhattan and Darren Drake, 32, a project manager from New Milford, New Jersey. Drake's family said he was out biking between meetings when he was killed. Cleves had just graduated from Skidmore College last year.
The 29-year-old Saipov faces federal terrorism charges that could carry the death penalty. Authorities accuse the Uzbek native of being inspired by the Islamic State group and plotting his attack over two months, choosing Halloween to carry it out because he assumed there would be more people on the streets.
Saipov's attorney, David Patton, has said he hopes "everyone lets the judicial process play out." He did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.