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Sons, architects, tourists: A shared fate on the bike path

Published: Thursday, November 02, 2017 @ 1:26 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 02, 2017 @ 1:21 AM

            This combination photo made from an Oct. 28, 2017 photo provided by Cecilia Piedrabuena shows, from left: Hernan Ferruchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernan Mendoza and Diego Angelini, before their trip to New York City, at the airport in Rosario, Argentina, in the province of Santa Fe. Ferruchi, Pagnucco, Erlij, Mendoza and Angelini 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 Cecilia Piedrabuena via AP)
This combination photo made from an Oct. 28, 2017 photo provided by Cecilia Piedrabuena shows, from left: Hernan Ferruchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernan Mendoza and Diego Angelini, before their trip to New York City, at the airport in Rosario, Argentina, in the province of Santa Fe. Ferruchi, Pagnucco, Erlij, Mendoza and Angelini 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 Cecilia Piedrabuena via AP)

Three decades had passed since their 1987 graduation from a technology high school in Argentina, but they had kept close through marriages, trips, jobs — mostly as architects — and children.

Some had played volleyball together in school, and as grown-ups, they would meet almost every week for traditional Argentine meat barbecues, or asados.

This week, they gathered in New York for a trip to mark their graduation 30 years ago — a celebration shattered when a man in a rental truck mowed them down as they rode bicycles on a path on the west side of Manhattan.

Five of the group of 10 died. Police called it a terrorist attack.

They hailed from Rosario, Argentina, the country's third-largest city and the hometown of international soccer star Lionel Messi and guerrilla leader Che Guevara.

"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, the Polytechnic School of Rosario.

The Argentine tour group formed the bulk of the eight deaths from Tuesday's attack, victims who reflected New York's status as a top tourist destination and capital of finance and technology.

The others were a Belgian mother of young sons, a new college graduate working as a software engineer, and 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.

Now, friends and relatives are remembering the victims — and recounting the circumstances that led them to New York.



Minutes before the attack, Ariel Erlij had called his wife in Rosario to tell her he was riding a bike and was happy.

"Ariel loved American culture," said friend Flavia Gauna, who knew of the bike conversation from Erlij's wife, Pabla Pereyra. "He used to say that if it wasn't for the U.S., the world would no longer exist because of these crazy (terrorists). And look what happened."

Erlij's wife authorized Gauna to disclose details about the victim so he would not become an anonymous terrorism victim, Gauna said.

"Right now, I'm sad," Gauna said. "I'm sure next I'll be filled with rage afterward. It's a very difficult moment. It is difficult to see his wife, who is so sad, knowing how much they adored each other, and to see his children sad."

Erlij, a 48-year-old civil engineer, founded Ivanar, a steel production company that made him the most financially successful of his old schoolmates. He was the driving force behind the trip to New York, helping to foot the bill for those who couldn't afford it.

Erlij, who had three children, was a big soccer fan, and also was active in politics in his home city and the surrounding state as he promoted investment projects for the area.

A neighbor, Averio Ososky, described Erlij as "an entrepreneur, a working type. Of gold."



Mendoza, 47, was a founding partner of the Rosario architecture firm Amascuatro with Ariel Benvenuto, a high school classmate who survived the attack in New York.

Mendoza was a big sports fan, and a longtime supporter of the Newell's Old Boys soccer club, which vies with Rosario Central to be the most popular team in the central Argentine city.

As a child, he played soccer at the Renato Cesarini school, which is dedicated to training players mainly from Santa Fe province, where Rosario is. Javier Mascherano, a midfielder for Barcelona, trained there, and Argentine national team coach Jorge Sampaoli was an instructor.

As a teenager, Mendoza discarded his dream of being a professional soccer player and turned to rugby. He played for the Duendes club and was a coach there until a year ago.

Mendoza was married with three children.

A friend, Cesar Lagostino, who also played at Renato Cesarini, remembers Mendoza for his passion for athletics, and for architecture.

"Always a lover of sport and of his profession," Lagostino said.

"I remember him as an honest person, among those who deserve to stay in this world," the friend added. "Generous and calm. I do not remember having seen him in anything violent."



Angelini, 48, followed in the footsteps of his father to become a well-known architect in Rosario and ran the architecture studio Angelini Architects.

"He was a very good professional and person. He was noble, loved by the city. It's so hard for us that he's gone," his father, Luis Angelini, told the AP in tears.

Angelini was married and had four young children, according to Rosario's La Capital newspaper. Growing up, he played volleyball with Erlij and other members of the group at Rosario's Club Rowing, which closed on Wednesday to mourn them.



Pagnucco, 49, lived with his wife and three daughters in Funes, a small city in the outskirts of Rosario.

Growing up, Angelini played soccer and volleyball at Rosario's Club Rowing with other members of the group. The club closed on Wednesday to mourn them, according to La Capital newspaper.

After graduating from college, he worked as an architect and later as a salesman for construction materials for Femaco, a company that was owned by the Brayco Group, which was headed by survivor Ivan Brajkovic.

"He was very sociable and loved by everyone," Ignacio Ortiz, a work colleague at Femaco, told the AP. "He was responsible at work and devoted to his family."

Ortiz said that it was Pagnucco's first trip to the U.S.

"He was so excited about this trip with his friends. He had been preparing it for a while."



Ferruchi, married with two children, had a prolific career at the Fundar construction company, where he held a management post.

Ferruchi was responsible for several projects in Rosario's affluent north port area, near the Parana river.

His work colleagues knew him as an excellent professional, as well as a humble, loving man.

The company posted an image of Ferruchi on social media with the words: "New York" and "We'll remember our buddy."



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."



Darren Drake, a 32-year-old project manager for Moody's Investors Service at the World Trade Center, had recently lost 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, James Drake, told

He earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Rutgers University in 2007 and a master's degree in business administration in 2011 from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He was working toward a second master's degree, at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Drake was civic-minded. Even while serving on the New Milford school board, he ran on a Republican slate for the city council in 2011 and was narrowly defeated. One of his running mates, Celeste Scavetta-Homaychak, told, "He was a very sweet man, who wouldn't harm a fly."

Just before that council election, Drake stressed that he favored a nonpartisan approach to local politics.

"There's no Democratic or Republican way to fill a pothole," he told the New Milford Patch.

James Drake told that he drove Darren every day to the train terminal in suburban Hoboken so he could commute to his job in the city.

In fact, his father said, Darren may well have escaped death or injury in September 2016 when a train crashed at Hoboken Terminal, killing one person and injuring dozens of others.

That day, a crossing guard had stopped their car to help schoolchildren cross a street. The delay caused Darren to miss the accident at the station.

"It was a matter of 30 seconds," his father said.

Upset, Darren immediately called his father to pick him up and take him back home.



The only New Yorker killed in the attack, Nicholas Cleves, 23, graduated last year from Skidmore College with a degree in computer science and died not far from his home in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. He was a software engineer and web developer.

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.

He had been working as a software engineer for the Unified Digital Group.

Cleves attended the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School, a progressive school in New York, from kindergarten through 12th grade, and later was a part-time member of its information technology staff.

The school's director, Phil Kassen, wrote on Facebook that Cleves was "just the nicest person to have around."

"Nicholas was kind, caring, curious, interested, and a great friend," Klassen wrote. "He always had a kind word when you would pass him in the hall, and the biggest smile, and always offered to help, no matter the situation."

Cleves' Italian-born mother, Monica Missio, is the owner of a lighting design company in New York. Klassen said she was an engaged parent who helped lead many of the school's art auctions.

Cleves' father, British-born Richard Cleves, died in 2013. He was Missio's business partner, and was remembered by Klassen for creating "the most wondrous and scariest haunted houses" for the school's Halloween Fair.


Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Debora Rey and Hernan Alvarez and video journalist Paul Byrne in Rosario; Luis Andres Henao and Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires; David Crary in New York; Raf Casert in Brussels, Belgium; and Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Clark County fire kills 4-H pigs, destroys barn

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 1:24 AM
Updated: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 2:23 AM

SCENE: German Twp. barn fire kills several animals

A barn was destroyed and 4-H pigs were killed after an early morning fire in German Twp., Clark County.

Homeowner Theresa Ward said when they discovered the blaze after midnight, they tried with a garden hose to put it out after calling 911. She said it took fire crews about 11 minutes to arrive on scene of the fire in the 4800 block of Troy Road.

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“It was the longest 11 minutes of our lives,” Ward said. “We were trying to save our animals and we just watched [the barn] go up in flames. There was nothing we could do.”

Ward two of her grandchildren participate in 4-H, and the pigs belonged to them. A few pigs did survive.

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The barn was destroyed, and Ward said they did not have insurance on the barn. She isn’t sure how they will rebuild.

Ward was told an electrical problem may be to blame, said said.

This downtown Dayton holiday display could mesmerize you for hours

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 7:56 AM

Virginia Kettering’s model train display, her gift for the community, has been a holiday tradition for more than two decades.

Virginia Kettering’s model train display, her gift for the community, has been a holiday tradition for more than two decades. 

The train and village setup was commissioned by the Dayton philanthropist in 1996. Kettering founded “One World One Christmas,” the annual celebration now called the Dayton Holiday Festival, in 1972.

» Dayton’s annual downtown holiday celebration started with this giant party in 1972
» This breathtaking holiday tradition is marking 25 seasons, and it’s still a must-see

Dayton philanthropist Virginia Kettering commissioned this holiday train display in 1996. The gift for the community is displayed in the lobby of the Kettering Tower through Jan. 2. LISA POWELL / STAFF(LISA POWELL)

Kettering and her husband, Eugene Kettering, the son of inventor Charles Kettering, were model train enthusiasts who kept their basement filled with the scaled down replicas. 

“We used to have one on our dining room table,” she told the Dayton Daily News in 1996, referring to a tiny model train that circled the couple’s holiday table delivering relishes to dinner guests. 

Three model trains chug through the scaled-down Christmas village: a trolley on the inner loop, a Christmas train carrying evergreen trees on the middle track and a larger diesel engine runs around the outer track. 

Miniature street lights illuminate buildings with glowing windows. The structures commemorate Dayton landmarks such as Requarth Lumber, the Dayton Daily News and Kettering Medical Center. 

There are countless engaging scenes within the arrangement. A diminutive bride and groom exit a church, a tiny man waits on a bench outside Elder-Beerman and a pocket-size Santa Claus leaves presents under a community Christmas tree. 

The model was refurbished in 2009, and the majority is still original. The only piece missing, a trolley climbing a hill, has been replaced by a train depot. 

Chris Schultz, the owner of Schultz’s Hobbies, and a team of volunteers from the Miami Valley Garden Railway Society, maintain the Virginia Kettering holiday train display and assemble it in the Kettering Tower lobby each year. LISA POWELL / STAFF(LISA POWELL)

Today, Chris Schultz, the owner of Schultz’s Hobbies in Kettering, and a team of volunteers from the Miami Valley Garden Railway Society maintain the display and assemble it in the Kettering Tower lobby each year. 

Schultz, who powered up the train display for the holiday season on Thanksgiving morning, said many people have made an annual pilgrimage to see the model train display a family tradition. 

“It’s really awesome to watch kids stand there for hours watching the trains go around,” he said. “It brings joy to me.” 


Virginia Kettering’s holiday train display, on view Thanksgiving through Jan. 2, 2018,  is located in the lobby of the Kettering Tower at Main and Second Streets in Dayton. 

Lobby hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The train can be viewed through the building windows at any time.

Driver hospitalized after rollover crash in Trotwood

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 7:38 AM
Updated: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 7:55 AM

A driver loses control on Gardendale Avenue and crashes.

UPDATE @ 8:25 a.m. 

A man was taken to Miami Valley Hospital following a rollover crash in a residential area on Gardendale Avenue in Trotwood Friday morning. 

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Officers said a car traveling westbound on Gardendale Avenue around 7:30 a.m. lost control, snapped a pole, rolled, and hit parked car in a driveway. 

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The driver, only identified as a man, was initially trapped inside the car but was freed and transported to Miami Valley Hospital. His condition and severity of injuries sustained was unavailable. 

Factors in the crash were unknown and still under investigation. 

UPDATE @ 7:55 a.m. 

At least one person was transported to an area hospital following a crash on Gardendale Avenue in Trotwood. 

One car is on its top after crashing into a parked car and a power pole, severing the pole in half, according to our crew on the scene. 

The condition of the driver was not immediately known. 

We’ll continue to update this page as new information becomes available. 


At least one person is reportedly trapped inside a vehicle following a crash on Gardendale Avenue in Trotwood Friday morning. 

>>Listen for updates on AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO

Police and fire crews were dispatched to Gardendale Avenue near Guenther Road around 7:30 a.m. Friday and reported one vehicle involved was on its side with at least one person trapped inside. 

Additional details were not immediately available. 

We have a crew on the way and we’ll update this page as we learn more. 

Entertaining guests? Here are some Dayton-specific ideas to enjoy the city

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 8:31 AM

Millions of colorful bulbs have transformed Countryside Park in Washington Twp. into a holiday wonderland for 25 seasons.

If you have friends and family in town for the holiday weekend, you may be looking for some ways to entertain and show off the Dayton area.

Here are four ideas:

1. Visit a museum: Check out the National Museum of the United States Air Force, 1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, or the Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton, or the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park, which consists of five different sites around Dayton that tell the stories of Wilbur and Orville Wright and Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

2. Attend a festival: The Dayton Holiday Festival kicks off tonight with the Grand Illumination Christmas Tree Lighting followed by the children’s parade at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. Woodland Lights in Washington Twp. opens tonight, and attendees can see Countryside Park transformed into a Christmas fairyland.

3. Visit a candy shop: There are plenty of local choices to satisfy your sweet tooth, including multiple locations of Esther Price, and the Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory, 120 S. Broadway, Lebanon. Check out this list of four candy shops in the Dayton area.

4. Visit a MetroPark: Enjoy the outdoors before temperatures drop at one of several parks managed by the Five Rivers MetroParks. There are 19 parks to choose from where you can work off that big Thanksgiving meal with a long hike.