Tuesday afternoon’s terror attack in Lower Manhattan killed vacationers and visitors to New York City, gruesomely cutting short the lives of at least six foreign tourists. With eight dead and nearly a dozen wounded, the Halloween-eve incident was the deadliest terror attack in the city since 9/11.
Among the dead were five Argentine men on a reunion trip to Manhattan and a Belgian woman traveling with her mother and sister. Among the wounded were three additional Belgian nationals and a sixth Argentine. As in the June attack on London Bridge in the United Kingdom, and the July attack on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s main drag, the victims were largely tourists, who hailed from far beyond the streets of Manhattan.
The suspected attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old born in Uzbekistan and a legal US green card holder, drove a rented Home Depot pickup truck directly onto a packed bicycle path. His victims were bicyclists, joggers, and pedestrians. Dozens of children, teenagers, and teachers from a nearby high school and elementary school were steps from the rampage; many apparently heard the attack, and some were direct witnesses.
Early Wednesday morning, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the names of the five close friends who were murdered together: Hernán Diego Mendoza-Espino, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, and Hernán Ferruchi.
A sixth Argentine, Martin Ludovico Marro, was injured and is being treated at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. The men were on a trip to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation from high school. All hailed from the town of Rosario, in the Santa Fe province of central Argentina, and all had graduated from the polytechnic school in the same town.
Details of the men have slowly begun to emerge in the press. Erlij, who owned a steel mill, apparently sponsored the trip for two of his friends who graduated with him in 1987. He was a father to four children. Mendoza-Espino was the father of three.
The Belgian woman was Ann-Laure Decadt, 31. She was a mother of two boys —- one three months, the other three years. "She was on a city trip with her two sisters and her mother,” her husband, Alexander Naessens, wrote to CNN. “They were with Ann-Laure at the time of the attack but are fortunately unharmed. Ann-Laure turned 31 years old and was a fantastic wife and the most beautiful mom to our two sons of 3 months and 3 years old. This loss is unbearable and difficult to understand.”
I am deeply saddened to announce a belgian victim in #Manhattan - I express my condolences to the family and friends— didier reynders (@dreynders) October 31, 2017
The two other victims were New Jersey resident, Darren Drake, 32, and New Yorker Nicholas Cleves, 23. "Darren was a good man with a soft touch and huge heart,” wrote Superintendent of New Milford, New Jersey schools Michael Polizzi. Drake had served on the school board. His father told CBS News he was devastated by the loss. "It was one of the most wonderful father-son relationships a person could have," he said.
Cleves was a recent college graduate, and a software engineer. He lived with his mother and had no siblings.
At least 12 were wounded in the attack, some grievously. Many remained in the hospital on Wednesday night.
On Wednesday morning, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cautioned against politicizing the incident. “The last thing the president or anyone else should do is politicize this tragedy. We have to find out what happened here,” de Blasio said on CNN Wednesday morning. “The minute you start generalizing it — especially to a whole religion — then unfortunately we’re sending the exact negative message that a lot of our enemies want sent. The terrorists want to affirm that this nation is somehow anti-Muslim. We’ve got to do the exact opposite.”