Five longtime friends from Argentina, celebrating the anniversary of their high school graduation, two young Americans and a Belgian mother were among those killed in Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City, officials and family members said.
Eight people died and 11 others were seriously injured after a 29-year-old driver, identified as Sayfullo Saipov, plowed his rental truck into pedestrians and bicyclists on a popular bike path near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, authorities said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack a “cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians” at a news conference Tuesday. Officials said it was the worst terrorist attack in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.
Those who died were remembered as young entrepreneurs, successful business owners and beloved caregivers.
Here’s what to know about the victims so far:
Ann-Laure Decadt, 31
Ann-Laure Decadt, a mother of two from Belgium, was riding a bicycle during a visit to the U.S. on Tuesday when she was fatally struck from behind during the truck driver’s rampage, according to her husband Alexander Naessens. She was 31.
“I am a broken man,” Naessens told TIME.
Decadt leaves behind a 3-year-old son and a three-month-old son. Naessens remembered Decadt as a “fantastic wife” and the “most beautiful mother.” He said Decadt was in New York City with her mother and two sisters — both of whom were unharmed.
Ariel Erlij, 48
Ariel Erlij, a well-known businessman in Argentina, and some of his old friends were in New York City to mark the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation when they were killed, Argentina’s foreign ministry said in a statement. Erlij, 48, had organized and helped fund the reunion trip for his former classmates — many of whom were architects, according to Argentina’s La Nacion newspaper. The trip, which included a stop in Boston, had been planned for more than a year.
“Five of the victims were from Rosario — young entrepreneurs, members of the city’s society. I imagine they had beautiful families,” President Mauricio Macri said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
Erlij was the chief executive of Ivanar, a steel manufacturing company in Argentina, La Nacion reported. Erlij’s friends told the Washington Post he had three children, loved going to the gym and always made time for family and friends outside of work. “He managed to become a successful businessman, without forgetting about his friends,” Jose Lo Menzo told the newspaper. “It is a loss without meaning.”
Erlij and his friends set off for the U.S. on Saturday, wearing matching white T-shirts emblazoned with the word “libre,” or free. They had graduated together from the Polytechnic School of Rosario, Argentina in 1987, according to the AP.
Alejandro Damián Pagnucco
Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, an Argentinian architect, was part of the group of friends killed while touring New York City. He was lovingly known as “Picho,” according to La Nacion. He was 49, according the newspaper, though the NYPD said he was 47. It was a “dream” of Pagnucco’s to visit New York City, his daughter, Ornee Pagnucco told the Washington Post. “We’re shattered,” she said. “It’s been really hard.”
Hernán Ferruchi, 47
Hernán Ferruchi, 47, was also an architect from Argentina who lost his life in the deadly terrorist attack. He had studied at the National University of Rosario after graduating high school, La Nacion reported.
Diego Enrique Angelini, 47
Diego Enrique Angelini, 47, was a father of three and an architect who had a studio in Argentina, according to La Nacion.
Hernan Diego Mendoza, 47
Hernan Diego Mendoza, 47, was also an architect in Argentina. He was remembered for his love of rugby.
Darren Drake, 32
Darren Drake was the “perfect son” who enjoyed going for bike rides during his breaks at work, his father told reporters outside his New Jersey home Wednesday. That’s what the 32-year-old project manager at Moody’s was doing when a truck driver deliberately struck and killed him in New York City.
“I hope he didn’t feel any pain,” Jimmy Drake said, according to NJ.com.
Darren Drake lived at home with his parents in New Milford, where they had dinner together every night. He was a Rutgers University graduate with political aspirations who was trying to earn his second master’s degree, according to his father.
The younger Drake had just lost nearly 100 lbs. after undergoing weight loss surgery. “While other people would take cigarette or coffee breaks, he would go out and ride the bike for 15 or 20 minutes,” Jimmy Drake said.
Nicholas Cleves, 23
Police identified Nicholas Cleves, 23, of New York City as the eighth victim.