2005-07-15 / Community

Manhattan AA 587 Memorial Draws Family Ire

By Howard Schwach


The simple plaque at the site.The simple plaque at the site. Port Authority officials drew the anger of family members of those who died in the tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor nearly four years ago by failing to invite them to the unveiling of a memorial at a Manhattan site.

Only two family members, tipped by reporters that the unveiling was about to take place, showed up at 177 Street in Washington Heights for the ceremony.

The Port Authority, which owns the small pocket park where the $1,000 stone memorial was placed, wanted to dedicate the spot to the families.

Port Authority Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Dept Director Victoria Kelly and Councilmen Martinez and Jackson recently unveiled a memorial to the victims of American Airlines Flight 587 at the 177th St “Pocket Park” in Washington Heights. Pictured, (from left), Jackson, family member Inez Nova, Kelly, family member Maria DeJesus , and Martinez..Port Authority Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Dept Director Victoria Kelly and Councilmen Martinez and Jackson recently unveiled a memorial to the victims of American Airlines Flight 587 at the 177th St “Pocket Park” in Washington Heights. Pictured, (from left), Jackson, family member Inez Nova, Kelly, family member Maria DeJesus , and Martinez.. Red-faced Port Authority officials, however, declined to invite the family members.

A spokesperson for the agency told reporters that there had been a discussion about inviting family members, but the idea was rejected because the “park is so small that everybody would not have fit.”

“We did not want to invite some and possibly offend others who could not be invited,” the spokesperson said.

Instead, two local Councilmen, Miguel Martinez and Robert Jackson, were invited to represent the community.

Even media outlets were told of the memorial only the day before the unveiling.

The family members who did show up were angry with a number of items, not the least that they had to “crash” the unveiling.

“I’m so angry they didn’t tell us about this,.” Said Belkis Lora, who lost her brother in the crash. “There should have been more relatives here.”

“They said that it’s too small for all of us here, but they could have invited ten or fifteen families to represent the others,” she told Leela de Krester of the New York Post. “Every family wants to be at every memorial.”

The Port Authority responded with a prepared statement that said, “We just wanted it to be a small, dignified private affair and not to have a spectacle. This is a very small park and we thought that if we had hundreds of family members they would not fit.”

 

 

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