A group of men who survived a terror attack this week spoke out Friday, days after a truck barreled through a Manhattan bike path, killing eight people, including five of their friends.
Joined by four fellow survivors at the Consulate General of Argentina on Friday, Guillermo Banchini described how a joyous outing with high school friends was shattered in an instant.
“There are no words that I can give you,” Banchini said in Spanish. “It hurts more than anything I’ve felt before. Also, it’s unbelievable the experience we had. We survived and we watched our friends die.”
Banchini and the other men were part of a larger, close-knit group of friends who had graduated together from a school in Argentina in 1987. The overall group of 10, most of them working as architects, regularly got together. During this trip, they were supposed to tour through Boston and New York.
They had been riding bicycles when they were hit. Five of them — Hernan Diego Mendoza, Ariel Erlij, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco and Hernan Ferruchi — didn't survive.
A fifth survivor in the group was still recovering at a hospital Friday.
As the press conference wrapped up, Banchini and the others, still visibly overcome with emotions, shared an embrace.
“The whole world has changed,” Banchini said.
Ann-Laure Decadt, a 31-year-old mother from Belgium, was also killed in the attack. Her family said she had been hit from behind as she rode a bicycle.
Two Americans — 23-year-old software engineer Nicholas Cleves, from Manhattan, and 32-year-old project manager Darren Drake, from New Jersey — were also killed.
On Thursday, about 100 mourners carrying candles walked on the promenade next to the route where authorities say 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov entered the bike path Tuesday afternoon and drove for almost a mile, mowing down bicyclists and pedestrians before crashing into a school bus.
Saipov faces federal terrorism charges that could carry the death penalty. His attorney said he hopes “everyone lets the judicial process play out.”