Survivors: Love will keep us united with our fallen friends
NEW YORK — Four Argentine survivors of a deadly terrorist attack in New York City this week said they always will carry the pain of seeing five of their friends killed while on a trip they had long dreamed of that turned into a horrible nightmare.
Juan Pablo Trevisan, Ariel Benvenuto, Guillermo Banchini and Ivan Brajkovic gathered at the Argentine Consulate in New York. Banchini, speaking for the group in Spanish, read an emotional statement that brought tears to the eyes of consulate officials.
“Friendship has a profound significance for Argentinians,” Banchini said. “We were brought here because of a friendship that was born when we were young, and that always accompanied us. We will forever mourn our friends. Love brought us here, and love will continue to unite us”.
The four survivors belonged to a group of 10 who came to the city to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. Five of them died after an Uzbek citizen steered a rented truck onto a bike path Tuesday and sped south toward the World Trade Center, striking cyclists and pedestrians, killing eight. He was shot by a police officer after crashing the truck into a school bus.
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, survived. He was arraigned Wednesday on terrorism charges.
The Argentinian group bore the brunt of the fatalities. Their story of longtime friendship captivated many people, with media worldwide publish- ing a photo of most of them at the airport in Rosario, Argentina, looking giddy shortly before boarding their flight to the U.S.
The four survivors hugged after Banchini read the statement, and applause erupted in the room. Deputy Consul General Eduardo Almirantearena had tears in his eyes.
“What has the world become? How could someone think, plan and execute a plan like this? We can’t get our heads around it,” Banchini said.
He called for love “ruling over hate and life prevailing over death.”
Guillermo Banchini (center), hugs Ivan Brajkovic (left) next to Ariel Benvenuto while making a joint statement memorializing friends lost in the New York City terror attack.