A group of eight friends from Argentina hailed to New York City to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation. Five of those men were tragically killed in yesterday’s suspected terror attack, where authorities say Sayfullo Saipov rammed a Home Depot rental truck into bicyclists and pedestrians on a bike path in lower Manhattan.
A sixth member of the group suffered critical injuries to the neck and was recovering at a hospital in lower Manhattan, according to authorities.
In addition, a 31-year-old Belgian tourist died about a half hour after being hit with the truck while riding her bicycle. Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders confirmed that three from his country were hurt in the attack, and the woman was killed.
Two Americans were also killed. 32-year-old Darren Drake, of New Jersey, was riding his bike on the path for exercise when he was struck and killed.
New York City resident Nicholas Cleves, 23, also died from injuries sustained when he was hit while riding his bicycle.
The Argentine Group of Men Happily Posed for a Photo Wearing Matching Shirts Before Heading to NYC
The eight friends traveled from their hometown of Rosario, Argentina, to New York City in order to celebrate graduating from The Instituto Politécnico 30 years ago. Each adorned a shirt that said “Libre,” the Spanish word meaning free.
The slain victims were identified as Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernan Ferruchi.
A sixth person, Martin Ludovico Marro, was hospitalized at Presbiterian Hospital of Manhattan after he suffered trauma to his neck, the New York Daily News reported. He is expected to survive.
The group posed just moments before boarding their flight at Islas Malvinas airport, according to Argentine paper La Nacion. The newspaper noted that while Erlij wasn’t able to fly with his friends on the same day, he joined them in New York City the next day.
At 4 p.m. following the attack, he was pronounced dead, the Daily News reported. The news source said “Erlij was an established businessman crafting steel near his Rosario hometown, while Ferruchi was an architect.”
The friends had been enjoying a bicycle ride along the Hudson River when Saipov stormed the crowd with his rental truck.
The men’s school released a statement on Facebook:
Faculty confirmed the five victims graduated from the school in 1987 and posted their condolences to the page.
The “institute expresses its most sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the attack in New York City,” the post reads.
Argentina President Mauricio Macri tweeted about the victims after the horrifying attack.
“Deeply moved by the tragic deaths of this afternoon in NY,” he wrote. “We are at disposal of the relatives of Argentine victims”:
Another tweet by the president called for peace with the hashtag #NuevaYork, spanish for New York:
Details about the suspect’s background were just unfolding as his name emerged, but it appears that he is a somewhat recent immigrant to the United States. Saipov “is an Uzbek national and came to the U.S. in 2010,” NBC News reported. Although CNN reports that it’s not clear whether he was in the United States lawfully, Fox News reports, though sources, that “the suspect was from Uzbekistan and had a green card. According to The Associated Press, Saipov has a Florida license but may have been living in New Jersey.”