Sur­vivors: Love will keep us united with our fallen friends

The Standard Journal - - POLICE & FIRE - By Clau­dia Tor­rens

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.”

An­dres Kudacki / As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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