Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

02 November 2017

Who Were They?

Yesterday I wrote about the tragedy in my hometown:  On a sunny, breezy autumn afternoon, a man drove a rented van onto the bike path that rims the Hudson River and mowed down eight cyclists.

Authorities are saying it was a terrorist incident.  That it is, whether or not Sayfullo Saipov, the driver said he committed the act in the name of Isis or some other group, or simply out of his own private rage or torment.  Terror is something that strikes, as Albert Camus wrote in The Plague, la mort est descendue du ciel clair--like death out of the clear blue sky.  Who goes for a ride on a beautiful fall afternoon--whether as part of a tour or a way to unwind after work--and expects to meet his or her destiny at the hands of someone whose face he or she will not see?

In yesterday's post, I mentioned six of the eight victims.  Six came from Argentina, another from Belgium.  I had no information about the other two victims, or the names of the six I mentioned.  Today I will provide those details, for they deserve to live on, even if it's in the confines of a bike blog and through my own limited talents.

Anyway, I learned that the other two victims were, as I somehow suspected, local residents.  In fact, one of them lived almost his entire life literally just a few wheel revolutions from where he was run down.

Nicholas Cleves

That benighted young man was Nicholas Cleves, a 23-year-old software developer who had recently graduated from Skidmore Colllege, less than a four-hour drive from the city.  Before going to Skidmore, he'd spent his whole life in downtown Manhattan where, according to friends and family, he grew up "biking everywhere."  

Darren Drake

The other local victim came from across the river, in New Jersey, where he served on the local board of education in his hometown of New Milford.  Darren Drake would have been 33 years old in two weeks and worked as a project manager in Moody's Analytics, just steps away from the bike path.  

Ann-Laure Decadt

Ann-Laure Decadt, a year younger than Drake, was riding with her mother and two sisters.  They were going to return to Staden, their hometown in the West Flanders province on Belgium, on Friday.  Now they and her husband are waiting for the US authorities to release her remains and no doubt thinking of when and how to tell her two sons--one three years old, the other three months--about her.

 (L to R) Hernan Ferrucci, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernan Mendoza and Diego Angelini

The other five victims, as I mentioned in the previous post, came from Argentina. They were celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation from a high school in Rosario, a town about 350 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires.  

Hernan Ferrucci, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernan Mendoza and Diego Angelini were childhood friends.  Their lives since graduation had taken them to far-flung corners of the world but they met again, in a faraway city, as middle-aged men. I would not be surprised to find out that they talked about reuniting again, perhaps five, ten or twenty years from now--or for some occasion or another.

Except, I don't think any of them envisioned being joined in fate with three strangers who were much younger but whose lives, like theirs, were cut short--for reasons neither they, nor anyone besides the driver who mowed them down, can understand.