Hilda Yolanda Mayor escaped the World Trade Center attack, but two months later died after boarding Monday’s doomed jet that crashed into a New York neighborhood.
Miss Mayor, 26, one of two persons who perished in the crash after surviving September 11, was headed to her mother’s Dominican Republic home to vacation with her two children, who had left New York two weeks earlier.
“We were going to make a meal. We were going to have all the family together,” her mother, Virginia Hernandez, said from the family’s Dominican home, where relatives wailed their grief.
For Felix Sanchez, the flight was the beginning of a new career as a financial adviser to Dominican baseball players. The 29-year-old had left his job as a Merrill Lynch broker at the World Trade Center on Sept. 10.
“After the World Trade Center, he had a renewed outlook on life,” said a friend, Sid Wilson. “And the last time I saw him, he was so high on life. I can’t believe this.”
Mr. Sanchez, who was active in Dominican civic groups in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, had hoped to help his countrymen invest their money wisely.
“To him, this trip was going to be a victory,” said an uncle, Leon Sanchez.
It was one of many plans that evaporated as lives were cut short Monday.
“Not the child, please not the child,” sobbed Germania Brito, who was at Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo to meet her sister Mariana Flores and husband, John, with their 2-year-old son, Isaias.
The September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, where Miss Mayor worked in a first-floor Au Bon Pain restaurant, left 41 Dominicans among the dead and missing. Monday’s crash of American Airlines Flight 587 from John F. Kennedy International Airport shocked a nation still reeling from terrorism and left the predominantly Dominican Washington Heights section of New York City especially bewildered.
At least 260 persons about 90 percent of them Dominican died in the crash, officials said. About half a million Dominicans live in New York, one of its largest immigrant groups, according to consular officials.
If anything symbolized the powerful connections between Dominican immigrants in New York and their homeland, Flight 587 was it. The well-known American Airlines route even merited a line in a merengue song.
“How joyful it could be to go on Flight 587,” said Juan Carlos Nunez, translating the lyric from Spanish.
Victims’ families have been gathering in apartments, a community center and a hotel since the crash, seeking solace and support from others sharing their pain. They lit candles and clutched photographs of those they lost.
That included Navy Petty Officer Ruben Rodriguez, who took the flight to meet his wife and children in the Dominican Republic, a family member said. The 32-year-old sailor spent the weekend visiting family in New York after a nearly seven-month stint on the Norfolk-based USS Enterprise, the first U.S. aircraft carrier to report for combat in the war on terrorism.
His brother, clutching a photo of Petty Officer Rodriguez in his Navy uniform, was one of two dozen relatives who gathered at a community center Monday night in Washington Heights.
While many awaiting the plane’s arrival in Santo Domingo assumed the worst, Eduardo Fresola was told his brother, Jose Antonio Nicolas Fresola, missed the flight because his 7-year-old sister got lost in the airport on her way back from the bathroom.
“I can’t believe it. He wasn’t on the plane,” exclaimed Mr. Fresola. “He’s alive. He’s safe.”