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Bike path victims reflected a buzzing, diverse New York City

Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2017 @ 4:59 AM
Updated: Wednesday, November 01, 2017 @ 4:59 AM


            This Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 photo provided by the Trevisan family shows from left to right; Hernan Ferruchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Ivan Brajckovic, Juan Pablo Trevisan, Hernan Mendoza, Diego Angelini and Ariel Benvenuto, gather for a group photo before their trip to New York City, at the airport in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina. Mendoza, Angelini, Pagnucco, Erlij and Ferruchi were killed in the bike path attack near the World Trade Center. They were part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation with a trip to New York City. (Courtesy of Trevisan family via AP)
This Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 photo provided by the Trevisan family shows from left to right; Hernan Ferruchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Ivan Brajckovic, Juan Pablo Trevisan, Hernan Mendoza, Diego Angelini and Ariel Benvenuto, gather for a group photo before their trip to New York City, at the airport in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina. Mendoza, Angelini, Pagnucco, Erlij and Ferruchi were killed in the bike path attack near the World Trade Center. They were part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation with a trip to New York City. (Courtesy of Trevisan family via AP)

One of the dead was a mother of young sons from Belgium. Five had traveled from Argentina to New York with a tight-knit group of classmates to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation.

The other victims were Americans: One a new college graduate working as a software engineer, the other a doting son who had recently lost nearly 100 pounds and was getting a bike ride in between meetings at his World Trade Center job.

Those killed in the New York bike path attack reflect a city that is a melting pot, a magnet for international visitors, and a business and technology capital.

"They saw New York as a special place to be," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, "and we now and forever will consider them New Yorkers."

The victims were mowed down by a rental truck Tuesday afternoon near the World Trade Center. Police called it a terrorist attack, saying the driver was an Uzbek immigrant who "did it in the name of ISIS."

The largest group of victims came from Rosario, Argentina, the country's third-largest city and the hometown of international soccer star Lionel Messi and guerrilla leader Che Guevara. They had made the trip courtesy of one of their well-heeled friends, who was also among those who perished.

"It hurts us to think that these are people who walked the same school halls as we did or that studied in our same classrooms," said Agustin Riccardi, a senior at the victims' alma mater.

President Mauricio Macri said in Buenos Aires that the attack "hit all Argentines hard."

On Wednesday, friends and relatives began remembering the victims — and recounting the circumstances that led them to New York.

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ARGENTINA: A GROUP OF FRIENDS

Three decades had passed since their 1987 graduation from the Polytechnic School of Rosario, Argentina. But the Argentine victims of Tuesday's truck attack, most of them architects, had remained close friends, getting together several times a year.

The five dead were among a group of 10 friends marking their graduation with a tour of New York and Boston, where a survivor of the group lived.

They had gone on a bike ride through Central Park on Tuesday before turning south, to lower Manhattan.

"They were pedaling in lines of two, chatting, laughing, enjoying the ride. My husband was the last one in the line, when he felt a speeding car, and then the truck that zoomed by" at high speed, Cecilia Piedrabuena, the wife of survivor Ariel Benvenuto, told an Argentine radio station. "The truck took away his friends, and he saw them all scattered on the ground."

One victim, Hernan Diego Mendoza, was an architect and father of three who designed the home of his close friend, Estanislao Beas.

"The news destroyed my wife and I," Beas said. "We had a tight bond. We cared for him so much. It's incredible that this happened to him and that he was there at that time."

Another friend, Cesar Lagostino, attended a candlelight vigil for the victims Wednesday evening outside the school. He remembered Mendoza as an honest and generous person, "among those who deserve to stay in this world."

The Argentine foreign ministry identified the other victims as Ariel Erlij, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco and Hernan Ferruchi.

The reunion trip was partially financed by Erlij, the chief executive of Ivanar, an Argentine steel products manufacturing company, according to Argentina's La Nacion newspaper.

Another classmate , Martin Ludovico Marro, of Newton, Massachusetts, near Boston, was being treated at a Manhattan hospital.

In Rosario, a minute of silence was observed at the high school earlier Wednesday, and the light-blue and white Argentina flag was flown at half-staff.

Only days earlier, before flying to the U.S., they had posed for a group photo, all of them wearing T-shirts with the word "Libre," or "Free" — meaning free from any responsibilities, said Piedrabuena, the wife of survivor Ariel Benvenuto.

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BELGIUM: ANN-LAURE DECADT

Ann-Laure Decadt, 31, the mother of a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old son, had traveled with her relatives to New York from a rural town in Belgium.

Decadt belonged to a prominent family that owns a venerable animal feed business in Staden, a town of 11,000 some 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of Brussels.

The family said in a statement that "she was riding a bike and apparently was surprised by a vehicle that came from behind." Her husband and children had not traveled with her. Other family members escaped injury.

Decadt grew up in the town and was active in its social scene, taking part in the youth council and village fairs, said Staden's mayor, Francesco Vanderjeugd.

"Ann-Laure meant so much to us in town," he said. "It is an attack in New York, but also one on our community."

Flags flew at half-staff in the village, and a condolence register was opened at the community center Wednesday — All Saints' Day, when Belgium traditionally remembers the dead.

Johan Verstervete, a friend of the family, said: "We knew her as a very spontaneous person, very dynamic, loving her family and her children."

Vanderjeugd said he was delighted when he first heard that Decadt was going to New York. He even sent the family a message saying: "Wow, you'll have a great time there, with Halloween and the New York marathon and all."

"And then," he said, "this happens."

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NEW JERSEY: DARREN DRAKE

Darren Drake, a 32-year-old project manager for Moody's Investors Service at the World Trade Center, had recently lost a lot of weight — 93 pounds — after undergoing lap band surgery. He was out for a bike ride between meetings when the truck hit and killed him.

"While other people would take cigarette or coffee breaks, he would go out and ride the bike for 15 to 20 minutes," his father, Jimmy Drake, told NJ.com.

Drake, a voracious reader who enjoyed listening to audio books, used to serve on the school board in New Milford, in northern New Jersey, where he was a native and lived with his parents. He had a master's degree in business administration and was working toward a second master's degree, at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Stevens' president, Nariman Farvardin, said in a message to the university community that Drake's death was "a heartbreaking loss for the Stevens community."

Jimmy Drake told NorthJersey.com he and his son were close. They went hunting and fishing together, and Jimmy drove Darren every day to the terminal in suburban Hoboken so he could catch a train to his job in the city.

He sobbed as he recounted seeing his son's body at the morgue.

"Just picture that face. He really looked like he was having a nice dream," he said.

He called the Uzbek immigrant suspected in the attack a "psycho" but said he's "not angry at all."

"I'm hurt," he said. "I'm absolutely hurt."

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NEW YORK CITY: NICHOLAS CLEVES

Nicholas Cleves, 23, died not far from his home in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. He was a software engineer and web developer.

Online profiles show he went to Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City and graduated last year from Skidmore College with a degree in computer science. He had been working as a software engineer for the Unified Digital Group.

Cleves described himself on his Facebook page as a "nerdy white boy." The most recent photo posted there showed him posing with some friends next to a Darth Vader figure at a Star Wars exhibit.

"Our hearts go out to Nicholas's mother, Monica Missio, who is a member of the Skidmore class of 1981, the other members of his family, and his closest friends," Skidmore President Philip A. Glotzbach wrote on the school's website.

Outlining his aspirations on LinkedIn, Cleves wrote that he was "searching for ways in which technology can be used to make positive impacts on our everyday lives."

Alex Silverstein, who hired Cleves as a Unified Digital Group intern during his senior year in college, wrote a glowing recommendation on LinkedIn.

"I immediately recognized his intelligence and desire to know more about everything," Silverstein wrote. "He is great with customers — polite, considerate, and patient. This is extremely useful emotional intelligence that you can't put a price on."

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Rey reported from Rosario, Argentina. Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania. Contributing were Associated Press writers Hernan Alvarez in Rosario; Victor Caivano, Almudena Calatrava and Luis Andres Henao in Buenos Aires; Raf Casert in Brussels; David Crary and Claudia Torrens in New York; and Philip Marcelo in Boston.

Reunions, friendships, gratitude highlight 49th annual Feast of Giving

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 2:09 PM

Feast of Giving held in Dayton

Every year for the past several, Marquita R. Robinson sits at a table at the Feast of Giving inside a massive room at the Dayton Convention Center to have Thanksgiving dinner with several thousand of her neighbors.

It’s also a homecoming of sorts.

“This is the place where a lot of my friends (meet) to see each other and we haven’t seen each other throughout the whole year,” the 32-year-old Dayton resident said before standing up and shouting and waving at a friend.

More than 8,000 people were expected to stream through the convention center’s doors Thursday. Marking it’s 49th year, the Thanksgiving Day tradition draws people of all ages and backgrounds who come together one day as a community, many interacting with strangers they have never met.

Richard C. Jones, 50, of Dayton, stopped in for his first trip to Feast of Giving since moving to the Gem City from Atlanta.

“I didn’t have any plans and I’m relatively new to Dayton,” he said.

Last year, he said he spent Thanksgiving alone. That changed this time once he found out about the dinner.

“I’m hoping to meet some of my Dayton neighbors,” he said as a band played on a stage near his table. “I’m not really an outgoing person. This is like something brand new and hopefully becomes a tradition.”

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The gathering had 500 volunteers — and turned away another 700 — to prepare and serve free meals to throngs of attendees, said Stephen Levitt, one of the event’s organizers.

“There’s always a few hang-ups, but we make it work,” he said.

Stephanie Richardson, 53, of Dayton, and Amy Schmitt, 59, of Beavercreek, set out place mats and prepared decorations in a room set aside for children.

The Thanksgiving spirit of giving “just spoke to me,” said Richardson, volunteering for the first time at the dinner since she recently moved to Dayton from the Virgin Islands.

Schmitt, a self-described “people person” and a public health nurse, wanted to work with children.

“It’s fun,” she said. And it gave her a sense of appreciation. “You come in here and serve today and you walk out with no complaints.”

Carol and Roger Ober of Beavercreek, volunteered for the first time, working as security monitors.

Carol Ober, a 71-year-old retired school teacher, said they wanted “to be part of something bigger than yourself and this is definitely big.”

The community dinner is so big it takes days to cook food for thousands.

Thursday started with a very basic ingredient that was the hardest to manage: Boiling water, said Sous-Chief Andrew Payne.

“Probably close to 1,000 gallons of water we had to get to a boil to be able to make the stuffing, to make the gravy, to make the mashed potatoes,” he said. “It’s constant. We started boiling water at two o’clock this morning.”

Payne also was one of about a dozen who spent seven to 10 hours Monday slicing 3,000 pounds of turkey.

The shopping list this year included 2,600 pounds of mashed potatoes, 2,000 pounds each of green beans and breaded stuffing, and 100 gallons of gravy. For dessert, the feast rolled out 900 pies of all sorts and 8,000 servings of ice cream.

Vanilla is the most popular flavor, said Joe Hartenstein, 62, of Trotwood. The long-time event volunteer and retired school truant officer also hands out chocolate and sherbet ice cream.

RELATED: Thousands enjoy friends, good food at Feast of Giving

For Robinson, a restaurant cashier, the mashed potatoes are the best on a filled Thanksgiving plate.

“I always get double mash every time I come down here,” she said. “Because it’s all silky. You add some butter to them and they’re awesome.”

Organizers stepped in nearly a decade ago when the Beerman Foundation, which had sponsored the event since 1969, announced plans to end the Thanksgiving tradition in Dayton.

The event costs about $180,000, half of which represent purveyors who donate food and equipment and the rest represents monetary donations, Levitt said.

Escaped inmate found 3 miles from hospital

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:32 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 2:14 PM

Inmate escapes while being treated at Middletown hospital

UPDATE @ 2:11 p.m. (Nov. 23)

Robert Langford was apprehended in the area of Industrial Drive and Shaker Road, about three miles north of Atrium Medical Center. He’s in Warren County Jail now on a count of escape.

Robert Langford, Warren County Jail

UPDATE @ 10:19 a.m. (Nov. 23)

Robert Langford never made it into Atrium Medical Center Wednesday night before escaping corrections custody, a hospital spokeswoman reports. 

Langford was never a patient at Atrium and had never made it inside the hospital before escaping custody, according to the hospital. 

Warren County sheriff’s Sgt. Roy McGill said Langford is still on the loose and being sought by police.

This newsroom is working to confirm how and when Langford escaped custody.

Langford is an inmate at  the Community Corrections Center, which is across the street from the Lebanon Correctional Institute on Ohio 63. That is a different facility from the Warren County Jail in downtown Lebanon.

FIRST REPORT (Nov. 22)

Deputies from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office are looking for an inmate that escaped custody of the Community Corrections Center staff late Wednesday night. 

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Robert Langford escaped custody of the CCC staff while in the process of being treated at Atrium Medical Center. He was last seen running north from the Atrium Medical Center in the city of Middletown at 8:08 p.m. in a hospital gown.

TRENDING: Deputy pursues car suspected in cell phone store heists

Langford is described as a 31-year-old white male, 6 feet tall, weighing 175 pounds with blue eyes and blond hair. 

He was sentenced to the Community Corrections Center after being convicted of drug offenses.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Robert Langford are urged to contact the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 513-695-1280 or the Warren County Communications Center at 513-695-2525. 

Booz Allen Hamilton lands $14.7M AFRL deal for combat simulation

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 9:57 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:53 PM


            Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. TY GREENLEES / STAFF FILE PHOTO
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. TY GREENLEES / STAFF FILE PHOTO

A defense contractor has landed a $14.7 million deal to develop virtual combat modeling and simulation technologies, according to the Department of Defense.

The Air Force Research Laboratory awarded the five-year deal to McLean, Va.-based Booz Allen Hamilton, the Defense Department said. Three bidders were in contention for the contract.

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The research will be conducted at both Wright-Patterson labs and in McLean, Va., the Defense Department said. AFRL has a worldwide workforce of more than 10,000 employees and is headquartered at Wright-Patterson.

Restaurant owner frustrated after burglar targets Broadway Cafe for 6th time

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:02 PM

Broadway Cafe Owners says he’s been targeted six times for break-ins

A thief smashed a front window and took cash from a Trotwood restaurant, the sixth time the restaurant has been targeted, according to the owner. 

RELATED: Video captures armed robbery, shooting at Broadway Cafe in Trotwood

Around 7 a.m. Thursday, police responded to an alarm from the Broadway Cafe at 203 North Broadway Avenue in Trotwood and found one of the front windows smashed in. Video surveillance provided to this news outlet by the owner of the restaurant Antonio Celik shows throw a large rock four times at a plexiglass door before crawling inside. 

RELATED: Man takes cash during armed robbery at Trotwood restaurant

The suspect grabs a cash register before fleeing the area on foot. 

TRENDING: Dayton man stabbed after argument over what day Thanksgiving is

Celik said the suspect took a minimal amount of cash, but the damage will cost him hundreds of dollars. 

“Trotwood needs to know, this is not going to be easy, it’s not easy. This man, mask and gloves comes here, takes money, that’s not fair, that’s not fair.  I’m angry, really angry, 6 times, maybe 7 times,” Celik told News Center 7’s Mike Campbell. 

Broadway Cafe has been targeted several times, including in 2016 when Celik was shot after confronting robbers. 

Trotwood police encourage anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers at 937-222-7867.